Hormonal Reactions & Influences - part 1
How chemical reactions affect us
The most Frequently Asked Question, certainly by people outside the erotic power exchange world, is: "What's so nice about pain?" The answer is simple: there's nothing "nice" about just pain. But, when applied with care and knowledge, impulses such as pain, stress, fear and humiliation - in the right context - can and will create a chain reaction or hormonal rush. This rush, frequently described as either dom- or subspace, plays an important role in consensual erotic power exchange and although it is not THE explanation for erotic power exchange behavior patterns, it's certainly one explanation.
"Pain" has different forms and shapes and in fact is a blanket term for various signals to the brain (note: pain can be replaced by stress, fear, humiliation and similar sensations - the effects described here will be similar). The main message pain sends to the brain is: "Here's a news flash. Stop the presses, hold everything, this message has priority." Latest research by psychologists and micro-biologists shows that pain isn't just a physical reaction but can be a psychological as well, and physical pain impulses can be and will be influenced by psychological factors. Stress for example can block the perception of pain, whereas fear or anxiety can increase this perception.
The term perception is being used here because pain isn't an automated signal, it's a signal that's interpreted by the brain before it's put through. The area in the brain known as the thalamus is where the pain-signal enters the brain. This is called the "pain gate" and this gate interprets the pain signals before passing them on. In fact, by giving micro-electronic impulses to this "pain gate" directly, pain-perception can be entirely stopped or diminished. Oversimplified: pull the plug and the patient will not feel pain.
A pain impulse will set off adrenaline production. Adrenaline is a drug ("home made" by the body) that will first of all create a state of higher alertness. Adrenaline is produced when the body or mind experiences or suspects stress, pain, danger or uncertainty. Managers and sports people are usually real adrenaline junkies and so are many of the people who are into erotic power exchange.
What's generally described as "adrenaline" in fact are two hormones: adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). Both are produced in the lower section of the human brain - the medulla or adrenal gland. Both are also secreted by nerve ends and operate as neuro-transmitters (facilitating faster transmission of signals from and to the brain). They are complementary, although adrenaline seems to concentrate predominantly on brain and heart activity and speeding up the metabolism, whereas noradrenaline predominantly concentrates on vasoconstrictor action (pumping activity in and by the blood veins) and as such raises the blood pressure.
The "adrenaline twins" are the bodies' immediate response kit. Even before the brain has analyzed the signals that indicate a "difference" in what was normal physical activity until that point, adrenaline will be released. The signals may later be analyzed as either danger, stress, pain or another alarm signal and even before the brain has done its split-second analyses, adrenaline will start to prepare the body for physical response.
The release will bring the sensory systems (eyes, ears, nerve ends and such) to a higher state of awareness, will start to speed up the metabolism with the purpose to quickly filter out sugars that will serve as immediate energy for the muscles, will increase the heart rhythm and vascular activity (in order to allow for faster transportation of the energy to the muscles) and finally will give impulses to the thalamus (the pain gate) in the brain and as such operates as a pain killer.
If the signals are analyzed by the brain as a false alarm, the production of adrenaline will stop and the body will return to its normal functions. Adrenaline is addictive, although not to the extent that it becomes dangerous. It's well known that top sports people, high profile managers and people who are into kicks develop a slight adrenaline and/or endorphins addiction. This also happens to erotic power exchange people.
Now, besides pain, stress, fear, uncertainty, humiliation and similar sensations described above, adrenaline production can also be triggered by sexual arousal.
Article continues in "Hormonal Reactions & Influences - part II"
Based on materials from the POWERotics Foundation