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Is submission caused by trauma or mental illness?

Me bending over a bench in a dungeon. My bare bottom is quite red

This week’s No True Way prompt asks whether submission is caused by trauma or mental illness.

A person, who identifies as submissive, went through some kind of trauma or is mentally unstable in some way.

Certainly I’ve encountered this belief through comments on my blog over the years. But I’m pretty sure that being submissive has nothing to do with either of those things. Submissives come in all shapes and sizes, literally and figuratively. But I’m pretty sure that our mental health isn’t what drives us to want to serve our dominant partners.

To outsiders, apparently anyone engaging in BDSM must be mad, bad or have been abused. But actually the vast majority of us find our way here through curiosity and a willingness to learn. Add to that the need for good and open communication and a desire for new experiences. Some people take up sky diving or rock climbing, others find that being secured to a bench and beaten with leather objects to be more fulfilling. I fall in to the latter camp.

I have no particular history of abuse, though I lived through an unhappy marriage where trust and communication was sadly lacking. There is no history of mental illness and I came into my current relationship with my eyes open.

Of course there are submissives and dominants who have suffered trauma or have mental health issues. But, I’m not convinced the proportions are higher than the average population. I’ve encountered many nurses (like me), teachers and others from the so called ‘caring’ professions who are submissive. But maybe that says something more profound about us. Often we are strong and capable people who find our submission provides opportunities we don’t get in other aspects of life. The fact that Master takes control of certain aspects of my life means I don’t have to. I’ve never been great at deciding what I want in the bedroom, only sorry when it doesn’t go how I want.

Being with a man who is keen to take charge of our sex life has been refreshing. That he also plans the kink, buys us great toys and knows how to use them is brilliant in my eyes. My life has been transformed since we’ve been together (8 years next month). I’d hate to return to my so called normal life. This is the one I’ve chosen and it’s more balanced that what I had before. That’s pretty much all I can say!

4 thoughts on “Is submission caused by trauma or mental illness?”

  1. It’s an interesting point you made about teachers and nurses and people in professions like that.
    I definitely am part of that team.
    And it might inspire an upcoming NoTrueWay prompt!

    Thank you

  2. I’ve encountered this belief, as well. And while I have met people whom I suspect DO gravitate toward pain and degradation because of trauma or abuse, the vast majority have been healthy, open-minded adults looking for adventure. I agree, too, that for some of us it is an adrenaline rush. And it can also be comforting, grounding, and centering.

  3. That would be interesting Lilly.

    I agree Brigit, I have also seen people want to experience pain after trauma, and I have encountered people who are unwell and probably need to be careful re: abuse, but my main experience has been positive.

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