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  • Alexandra Gold

Why People Play with Dark Emotions

Why People Play with Dark Emotions: Shame, Fear, and Humiliation

Playing with dark emotions may entail playing with mind fucks, humiliation, objectification, shame, and dehumanization. These scenes revolve around two central themes—playing with consent and taking a vacation from the self. Playing with consent includes terror, rape or abduction simulations, interrogation, and mindfucks, while vacationing from the self includes hypnosis, humiliation, and objectification. Such psychological play has a variety of motivations. To understand these motivations one must first understand the erotic equation, an equation that explains why psychological play can be so exciting. 




Obstacles can be associated with or amplify excitement. Some such amplifying components include: longing and anticipation, violating taboos, and searching for power. These sensations heighten pleasure and lead to intensified excitement during sex. Some of the needs for kink, as expressed by practitioners, include peak experiences, as understood in the erotic equation, and heightening understimulation. But such excitement related motivations are not the only cause for playing with dark emotions.

Other motivations include to up-regulate or down-regulate emotions, to counter depression symptoms, to counter anxiety symptoms, to address symptoms of ADHD, to dampen overstimulation (endorphin/endocannabinoid effects), and attention regulation or mindfulness practice. The list is long and diverse. There is no singular reason for why people engage with dark emotions—but all themes are of importance to those who practice such psychological play.

Playing with dark emotions also may allow those who have experienced sexual, physical, or emotional trauma to confront and reframe past trauma. This shapes a safe and communicated exploration of the self, and of components of identity that may have been repressed with past trauma. Playing with dark emotions necessitates having a clear beginning and end of the scene—such demarcation preserves the consensual nature of the scene. The boundaries of psychological play may provide solace and space to work through trauma. 85.1% of folks who believe kink has impacted their mental health believe that it has impacted it positively. The emotional transformations that occur in the confines of psychological play can have long-lasting positive effects. Anxiety becomes security, shame becomes acceptance, and wounding becomes healing. Psychological play creates room for personal growth.

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