Frenzy in BDSM
So a question I’ve often been asked is what exactly is Frenzy and why is it considered so bad. This comes up often when someone speaks about “sub frenzy” but there is also “Dom frenzy” as well as other variations on the theme. I hope to shed some light on these situations by looking at the bigger picture and then how these roles might manifest in people’s behavior. In general, many can readily visualize a “frenzy of activity”, but what do we actually mean?
By definition, the use of “frenzy” boils down to: (1) wild excitement or derangement, (2) extreme mental agitation, (3) a violent fit or spell of emotions or activity characteristic of mania. As an example, this might be a flurry of activity to get ready for a party before guests arrive when accompanied by heightened emotions, or desperate rushing to gather materials and books before rushing to class or work.
Frenzy in BDSM
When used in the BDSM culture, the common use usually references someone relatively new to the scene and who is experiencing overwhelming excitement. The frenzy is the want to do all the things, all the time, more and more, and now all NOW! This state often leads to poor decision making and therefore bad outcomes which range from not enough sleep, food, water, to poor choices about partners and details of scenes. Frenzy can also cause one to omit the mindfulness needed to properly recognize the nature of risk inherent in various types of play; drop important details such as: mental, emotional, and physical limits, needs, or after care; and miss proper signals during scenes to help govern safety and response – often resulting in serious harm.
Let’s put these things together. What we have is an Emotional drive to Act, a feeling so strong it distorts perspective and priority. Frenzy demands we take heed – often without much consideration or regard to consequences. When someone is subject to a frenzied state, they are Reacting (no thought) versus Responding (mindfulness), spinning out of control. But what causes the frenzy?? Well lots of things, among them include, but not limited to:
- Newbie Excitement
- Identity Insecurity
- Scene Rush/Drop
Newbie excitement is pretty easy to recognize. They have no experience, want to do “all the things”, and push themselves to fit everything in with a certain reckless abandon. This is a type of frenzy. In their excitement and naïveté, all the precautions go out the window – among them proper sleep, hydration, nutrition, and pacing. While it’s okay to be excited, it is not okay to lose your mind in the process and ignore the risks associated with decisions and responsibilities that will just “slow you down. It’s all about the wonder of potential and the intensity of newness.
While it’s good to be excited and optimistic about your potential experiences, you still need to keep a level head. Rushing into things completely clueless was fine as a child, BUT you are an adult now, like it or not, and are responsible for your choices, or lack thereof. You must, therefore, temper yourself and show enough self-discipline to use good judgment. If you want to be a careless twit, that’s your call of course, but don’t drag anyone else into your drama and try to use your “innocence” as an excuse.
There is a misunderstanding that a person must fit into a category or label that describes them. This is essentially seeking some confirmation of who they are, both to themselves and to others, a specific label on which they can rely. Many people in BDSM, especially those new, often focus or obsess over finding the right term or label for themselves. Once they seem to have found a label or term, they either adopt it themselves or insist another should recognize that role immediately and completely. Essentially, this is a tendency to force BDSM into an all or nothing proposition – another form of frenzy. Do not fall into the trap to test and find your identity in a hurry and without careful contemplation or reflection.
Defining yourself, your identity, is not conveyed by adopting a label. Labels and terms are only a tool to help describe what we have found to be partially true, and is essentially a shortcut in communication. This shortcut is not meant to be the full dialog however, but rather only the start of establishing some initial common ground as to what you are looking for and what might be a good fit.
So you feel you are optimistic, but not overexcited. You are more than a label, but perhaps found a few that helps others understand where you are coming from. Good… you are on the right track. Now others might push back on how you are defining yourself (are you a “true” Dom or sub?), or you might say to yourself “well, you said you are X, now prove it.” If you are going out of your way to overly extend yourself in order to prove yourself, prove your love or devotion, prove your ability to give or receive, then it’s a dare. Whether from your inside voice or someone else, do not fall for the dare.
There is a tendency to lose mindfulness when our bluff is called. It’s what I call the “oh yeah?!?” response and tends to go overboard to Prove the strength of your conviction. Human nature often tends to double-down on a belief or conviction. That is another sort of frenzy, to over commit beyond reason into something potentially dangerous because you are allowing yourself to be baited, and the emotions are getting the better of you.
Posturing as a form of frenzy is what you get when you combine “Identity Insecurity” and “Proving/Approval”. This is a perfect recipe for disaster for the individual and those around them, both for the drama and possible harm it can cause. Essentially, the element of trying to establish their identity is assuming a role completely, and often without the necessary experience or education required. With ego invested, there is now a need to try to walk the talk, and if that fails, bluff and bluster. Learning has ceased to occur, sensitivity to the needs or safety of others has halted, and we have a dangerous situation where there is just enough knowledge to be dangerous and too little concern about others to be reckless.
There is no simple cure or fix for reckless and willful ignorance. If you see it, run from it as quickly as you can. No need to comment on it, just shut it down and move on. Chances are anything you might have to say of value to them will simply be ignored because the door to learning isn’t open. If you find yourself getting caught up in the moment, and starting to fall into this trap, give yourself a little time out. Get some air, breathe deep, and ground yourself back to reality. There is no shame in humility, in learning, and being open to others. Everyone makes mistakes, for that is how we learn; it’s when we do not listen and learn from our lessons that we repeat our errors. Check the ego at the door, and be your genuine best self.
Frenzy can also come from the incredible highs of a good scene, as much as the drop that eventually occurs afterwards. On one hand you may be so energized by a scene, something so intense and charging, that you just want More of it. The neurochemicals in your body are altering your perceptions, feelings, and thinking. All you know is that you want more of this thing that was so amazing. Or maybe you had a great scene and are still floating and buzzing, feeling better than ever. Things start to subside, the neurochemicals correct, and you start coming down – and it sucks. There is the adage of “a little of the hair of the dog that bit you” comes to the front of the mind. You need something. NO, you NEED something NOW to help you through this.
You are, essentially, now caught up in “chasing the dragon”. You are now seeking the same high – or at least something close enough to help you through. Make no mistake… that is exactly what it is, a high created through your own body’s production of chemicals and hormones. First, one must realize that when you are on a drug (any drug, even ones your body produce) the first rule is remembering that you ARE ON A DRUG. What you experience and feel is not part of the normal day to day. This moment is the exception, not the norm. There is nothing like your first intense experience, much like someone’s first great high. The two are NOT different – which is why the community shuns use of substances in play, its already risky enough to have significant challenges without adding yet another factor to complicate things and make it even riskier.
I often hear about the challenges when dealing with long distance relationships or the time between play parties, events, and visits with their significant others. Loneliness can be a very tangible and heavy emotional burden. When it goes on for too long and/or when the insecurity starts adding to that emotional weight, it can be unbearable. Add to this the feelings behind why we feel lonely. To alleviate the pain, the hunger or desire to go the extra mile and make up for lost time can be quite palatable.
This is yet another type of frenzy, where logic leaves the building in the face of loneliness and feelings of desperation. The desire to eliminate this pain can be so strong that good judgment is abandoned in order to lessen the feelings of isolation, doubt, rejection, etc. A simple fact borne out by research is that much of addiction leads back to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Coping depends on learning how to be brave and strong with yourself as well as building and using your support network. Try reconnecting with family, friends, partners, nature, or your spiritual practice – it’s about connection.
For many, the feeling of being under stress is no trivial matter. Be it professional or personal demands, whether in expressions of criticism, or events that leads to physical or emotional isolation or abandonment. When feelings of rejection are compounded by emotions of embarrassment or humiliation, this makes things even worse. Life can be particularly challenging, especially when trying to manage painful emotions associated with rejection. Therefore, it is not uncommon to seek a method of escape from the awareness of pain you presently feel. It is the basis for much of our current entertainment industry, to escape and distract, and why US consumer habits are often an emotional based sale. Yet, this is also another type of frenzy state.
Use of reckless action to cope or distract yourself from life’s stressors, while common enough, is still reckless. One might seek to relieve pressures at work, at home due to children, or matters of relationship tension. When the use of a thing is engaged with a certain wanton disregard for outcome or consequence, we can still say its part of the Frenzy mindset. The need to play becomes a coping tool, and by proxy a method of self medication through induced saturation of neurochemicals. If so, then it is no different than the use of alcohol or drugs to “numb the pain”, which often has harmful consequences to relationships, jobs, children, and a healthy balance in managing life.
Frenzy happens for many reasons, and while it is typically attributed to subs, it happens for Doms as well. It is, put simply, a desperate drive to have your needs satisfied. The implication is the mindless, reckless, and dangerous nature attributed to a frenzied state. The only cure is being Aware and using Self-Discipline: do not feed the beast within when you are in a state of frenzy, which is the exact opposite of what it’s driving you to do. Throwing caution to the wind is not the answer, and will not yield better outcomes.
For subs – Frenzy can feel like being the proverbial kid in the candy shop. You want, want it now, and will play with people too soon, too often, too intensely, and often without drawing limits of your own. It’s highly important that a Dominant learn to recognize the signs of sub frenzy and be a responsible Dom by resisting the urge to take advantage of a submissive’s frenzy. When you see it, you need to take cautious control and pace the sub so as to prevent a potentially ugly scenario from culminating.
For Doms – Frenzy can feel like the world is your oyster. You feel hungry, voracious, and can make or break any sub of your choosing, you are sin incarnate. You will give, and take, and take, and take – often without consideration to consequences, good preparation, or basic safety of both yours and their minds and bodies. It is highly important that a submissive learn to recognize the signs of Dom frenzy: reckless eagerness, arrogance, lack of communication or respect. If you see this, suggest perhaps getting to know someone quietly over coffee or tea and see if reason returns. If not, simply politely decline – how they feel about that and manage it is their problem, not yours.
*For more on natural neurochemicals of happiness, check out this article on Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201211/the-neurochemicals-happiness
Copyright 2015 Limits Unleashed