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Are You Nuts?    Is Being Submissive Normal?

Normal! What is normal? Does anyone really have a good working definition of normal? The only definition of normal I can buy came from my college professor of abnormal psychology: Normal is someone you don't know very well! We are each individuals with our own special qualities. Is an interest in BDSM something we want to call healthy, or is it something that needs to be dealt with on a psychiatrist's couch?

Well, to some folk out there they can see no worth in what we who like BDSM do. I know some feel that BDSM is immoral and some feel that it is socially unacceptable because they see it as just another way in which people exploit one another. Some think that it promotes violence in society and others just plain think it is sick. The neat thing is that it can be all of that to them if they wish it to be and, at the same time, it can be something very special to me that enriches my life. That's the great thing about the human mind, we all think differently. What is more, I live in a country where I am allowed the right to think for myself and believe the way I want to, just like all those that don't like what I like have the same right. On a social, political, and moral level, the issue as to whether it is right or not is up to each of us as individuals. If my religious belief system prohibited me from expressing myself in an erotic manner, I would have no way to justify what I like

and the way I behave in my life. I respect others people's right to their beliefs and have no interest in pushing my lifestyle on them. I feel fortunate though that I have been blessed with a belief system that humans are not inherently evil and that, provided we don't harm others, we can celebrate those human endeavors that give us the opportunity to explore all that we can be.

The real issue we should concern ourselves with is not if BDSM is moral, normal, or politically correct, but rather, is it healthy? Is practicing a lifestyle of a voluntary exchange of power which employs significant elements of erotic sadism and machocism, inherently pathological and detrimental to our emotional well being? Are you really just suffering from a mental disorder? First, let me take a minute and look at where we get our notions that qualify our society's beliefs in psychology. Is there a universal world standard by which we can evaluate what is right or wrong about a person's behaviour?

I live in a small Midwestern town in the United States. Here they have certain criteria that would define when someone is not acting normal. Men do a lot of hunting and fishing here and love sports! The Super bowl is right up there with Christmas and the fourth of July when it comes to 'Holidays'. Our local school won't question a request from a parent to take their child out of classes in the fall so that they can accompany their fathers (and mothers) in the woods during hunting season. It's all part of the way we do it here.

Now my husband came from a large city that has a major university at it's core. He was transplanted to this small town because of a really inexplicable emotion, that should he herald, would be suspect as to it's sensibility. The emotion is love and he moved here for me. He's an academic and has always been involved in the arts. He doesn't hunt and hates sports. He would rather spend his time in a museum or go to the opera. Pretty much considered a nut case out here by the locals. When they find out that he's a city guy and doesn't even like golf, well there is just no question left as to his sanity. He's either just plain crazy or some kind of a foreigner to them.

Here's my point with this; He is a foreigner of sorts. He was raised in a different kind of culture, although only 150 miles east, that holds different values and follows different rules. He's still part of the overall American culture, but his personality was formed by a sub - division of that culture. He's not nuts, just ascribes to a different way of life that was learned in his subculture.

An anthropologist by the name of Leslie White, has suggested in a book title, The Science of Culture, that psychology is a function of culture. What we deem as normal or abnormal behaviour comes from that which has evolved through our culture as valuable to the efficient functioning of those within it's parameters. We need recognized ways and rules in order to relate to one another with some predictability and consistency. Many of the mental health issues that people suffer are from when they are not able to adapt to a culture's values and principles. So many issues of depression and personality disorders have root cause in feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and failure because the person does not measure up to their peers. Not all mental health problems are environmental, some are biological, but a great many are rooted in the inability to conform to the expectations of the predominant group.

What may be considered normal behaviour is largely a judgment of how consistent it is with the greater cultural influences that we live with. What may be looked at as unhealthy here in America, could be accepted, even exalted, in another culture. A shrink in my home town could have a field day working out a client's deep rooted problems, where in some other place of the world, the same behavior could be viewed as an important dimension of a fully functional human being. It is our culture that largely determines what is seen as normal behaviour and what is abnormal behaviour.

So, if we subscribe to all that I have said above, why does it seem so strange to you when you think about venturing into BDSM? Can you buy this stuff that what is normal is a function of culture? Doesn't our culture look down on all of this stuff anyway? You're nuts, right?

Our culture does not recognize that BDSM holds a valuable place in it...yet. Our culture is basically driven by religious and social mores which create a distinct gulf between what it seen as 'of the spirit' and what is 'of the flesh'. The former being virtue and the later being vice. In our culture, our logic evaluates and judges behaviour in a linear nature. This leads to that, that leads to the next and so on. We balance what is good and bad in behaviour by placing what we see as opposing acts on a continuum with each of these entities on the extreme poles. Good on one side, bad on the other. Virtue on one end with good, bad on the other with vice. Spirit on the same end as good, with flesh on the other end with bad. You, as in what you do, or even think, are placed on either one end or the other according to how the anonymous authority in our culture values how you behave. If you don't find yourself on one extreme end or the other, you will find yourself on the line somewhere in between the two extreme poles, probably lying on a couch in a therapist's office. Are you unhealthy if you don't end up on the right end of the continuum? No, probably not, you just fell out (or are falling out of) your culture's box. And guess what? What you are falling into is what we call a subculture. Yes, the BDSM lifestyle is a subculture of the predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant culture that we call America. Now, isn't it great to know that you now have a subculture populated by sadists, masochists and other assorted fetish lovers! Alright, so what does all this have to do with it being normal? Well it's like this. It isn't normal to want someone to spank you or tie you up in our predominant culture. In fact, it's downright deviant behaviour. But, if we take a look at some other subcultures, I think we might see some other practices that would deviate from the norm. Here's an example. We have a large population of Amish people in the small town where I live. No electricity and no automobile? That deviates from the normal American populous. What about the motorcycle clubs that string down our highways creating such a ruckus with their straight pipes? Better yet, what about the senior citizen motorcycle clubs? Aren't those old folks suppose to be home watching their grandchildren and playing checkers? These are all subcultures of our great society and all of them deviate from what most would call normal.

Now I find it interesting that even within some subcultures there are deviations in behaviours between different sects of the main group. The fundamentalist christian doesn't drink or smoke. It not correct behaviour for them. Yet, it comes to mind and old joke: "Whereever you find four Catholics, you always find a fifth!" Yes, some religions don't ban drinking, smoking or dancing...just birth control. And so it goes.

Yes, BDSM is deviate behaviour from the major groups in our society. It is also deviate behaviour according to other subcultures. Even sexually orientated subcultures, such as swingers, gays, lesbians, and cross-dressers have individuals that proclaim BDSM as deviate behaviour. Such is the diversity of the human mind. Yet, for us, we find that within our group, we are normal. Remember, psychology is a function of culture. It is also a function of your particular subculture.

Are you sick? Hopefully, not yet. If you buy all of the guilt and pressure that is put on you to conform to all the other groups out there wanting yo to be part of their numbers, you may have some real emotional distress ahead of you. In fact, I suspect that you may have had some emotional discomfort already. Most of us who march to the sound of different drums have had to wrestle with our nonconformity all ready. That's normal for us though. We are now strong in numbers and can really call ourselves a sub=culture or subgroup. We look for mutual support between like minds.

And are you normal? Well I don't know you very well so I have to say yes. After I get to know you, I'm sure my evaluation will most definitely turn the corner and give the preferred diagnoses as being abnormal! Your as normal as the next guy (in another subculture) is nuts!

Next Page  (Are You Nuts?)


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