Genetics and Brain Chemistry effects on
EROTIC POWER EXCHANGE and BDSM
In 1973, John Hughes a professor of Micro-Biology in Aberdeen, Scotland, began experiments to identify a "Substance X" which had Morphine-like effects within the human brain. He and his Mentor, Hans Kosterlitz called the brain chemical they found "enkephalin." Many other researchers around the world duplicated and continued their experiments and sought to identify an opiate "receptor" in the human brain, the "target" or lock into which morphine and other opiates fit, like a key, to activate neural responses. As research progressed, it became clear that there was not just one, but a group of chemicals, being produced within the brain and body, which had properties similar to morphine. At a 1975 meeting in Virginia, the name endorphines, Latin for "the morphine within" was coined. The term includes all substances, produced within the Brain and Limbic system, which exhibit properties similar to opiates. Sometime later the 'e' was dropped and the name became established and popularized as endorphins.
Over the next few years it became clear that there were profound and diverse roles for endorphins. Noted endocrinologist, Candace Pert, published research that showed Endorphins play an important role in human healing processes, by linking the immune and endocrine systems, with the emotions and mind, into one psycho-immune system.
Scientists studying Chinese acupuncture techniques, noticed the needles stimulated the production of endorphins and these experiments raised the level of interest and respect for many kinds of non-traditional medicine in Western, scientific circles.
Chemically, endorphins are a complex group of peptides composed of simple chains of amino acids which act as neuro-transmitters. They are primarily assembled within and secreted by the pituitary, a small endocrine gland located at the base of the brain. Endorphins became significant in brain chemistry, hundreds of millions of years ago, in the first primitive animals with central nervous systems.
Obviously, neuro-transmitters evolved for many purposes and some legitimate scientific research exists that clearly links specific brain chemistry to Erotic Power Exchange. It is doubtful any scientist would dare to specifically, propose such a "politically incorrect" study, but it is clear that endorphins are responsible for much of the emotional content of life, as they serve to link pleasure with specific behaviors. Endorphins and the many other hormones and chemicals produced within the endocrine system, are responsible for our sense of vitality, awareness of one's self and the emotional feelings of bonding, belonging and love, as well as our perception of both pleasure and pain, stress, and our emotional behaviors and motivation. In essence, much of the content of life and the pleasures of being alive are created within the mind through the actions of these chemicals. Thus EPE is clearly a part of brain chemistry and in my view the result of evolutionary adaptations that favored survival of groups with strong, intelligent, leaders.
The brain produces and utilizes endorphins as a reaction to a variety of stimuli. These electro-chemical reactions are so complex they are difficult to predict accurately, or even to study. They can result from something as simple as a pain impulse or be stimulated by the brain itself from emotional reactions or even in some cases from cognitive intent. The action of endorphins, seem to explain a lot of things, including the phenomena of certain people learning to exclude the sensation of pain, by mental effort alone.
It is apparent that endorphins play an important role in and may be the predominant attraction people have to D/s, BDSM and EPE.
Recently researchers have begun to study the influence of adrenaline and other hormones on the production of endorphins. Adrenaline causes a higher state of awareness, among other effects on the body and brain. It is believed that enhanced alertness begins a cascade effect in the production of endorphins. Endorphins have effects on all sorts of physical and mental processes, including many that are related to D/s, BDSM, and EPE. It has been noted that young children sometimes do not react in the normal fashion to emotional stimuli, but simply enjoy the feelings produced by endorphins. Recent research suggests that in certain situations, adults learn to release endorphins intentionally or stimulate them for pure enjoyment. Some examples would be the pure pleasure adults can experience during extreme kicks, such as riding a roller coaster, skydiving, violent video games, horror movies, and of course, uninhibited sexual activities such as EPE, BDSM, and D/s.
Since endorphins effect emotions and "mood," other effects seem obvious and all these chemicals effect the body generally and specifically the reproductive organs, in addition to affecting the brain. Conversely, Sexual orgasm is proven to trigger adrenaline production and a linkage or feedback occurs when sex and fear interact. One can deduce that sexual orgasms and emotional sensations are likely to be "enhanced" or to at least feel "different," during D/s or BDSM or EPE activities.
The accouterments of BDSM, D/s and EPE; fantasy, symbolism, fetishes, gestures, postures, expressions, altered states of perception, pain, humiliation, discomfort, helplessness and many other stimuli may very well be intertwined and connected to the effects of the endorphins themselves. This seems to be a simple and reasonable explanation for the importance of fantasies, fetishes and symbols in D/s relationships and EPE scenes.
Neurotransmitter levels in genetic Alpha Males:
There have been many scientific studies of Dominance and submissiveness in both animals and Humans. Research has produced solid evidence that one type of Dominant Male, the so called, Genetic "Alpha" Male, produces and uses extraordinary levels of one specific brain chemical, serotonin, and it is apparent that both physical and mental impulses play a role in the production and release of psycho-active chemicals within the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical found in many parts of the body and used within the brain and nervous system to transmit information between cells. Like endorphin and other hormones, it is a natural drug, produced within the body. When Serotonin is released into the bloodstream, it has immediate effects on the emotional centers of the brain. The biological precursors of serotonin act within the primitive limbic system, to produce the states of ecstasy and euphoria.
Medical science has established that serotonin plays an important role in various neural disorders and it can be used to treat autism, clinical depression and even some physical problems, such as migraine. Some recently developed synthetic drugs with chemical structures analogous to serotonin, can simulate some of the same effects and produce excitement, agitation, and even hallucinations. LSD, the infamous "flower power" drug of the late 60's is an example.
Other drugs are serotonin antagonists and tend to generate feelings of apathy or depression. Psilocybin, a natural compound found in certain mushrooms, was used by the Maya Indians of the Yucatan peninsula for centuries to induce trance-like states of detachment during religious ceremonies.
Serotonin can also be derived from the amino acid, tryptophan, which is a constituent of many venoms, such as wasp venom and toad venom. This may explain the idea of "toad licking," a distasteful activity that apparently has an exciting effect, compared, by those who engage in this bizarre behavior, to the effects of synthetic drugs like ecstasy.
Recently, a biochemical researcher, Michael Hutchison published "The Anatomy of Sex and Power" His research establishes a link connecting serotonin directly to "Alpha" Male Dominant, behavior in several species of mammals that live in small social groups. Such "tribal" cultures include humans.
Hutchinson's research reinforces similar conclusions by Biologist Lynn Margulis and brain function expert Steven Pinker, who found that the Genetically Dominant Male in any social group, whether animal or human showed significantly higher levels of serotonin than the average of non-dominant males within the same social group.
A variety of experiments indicate that if the Alpha Dominant Male is isolated from the group, his leadership role and responsibilities are diminished and his serotonin level will decrease significantly. This decrease diminishes his libido, promotes apathy, and emotional malaise. Conversely, upon being reinstated to dominance within the group, his serotonin production will rise to its previous levels. Increasing the Alpha's power and responsibility will cause these physical and emotional symptoms to disappear as the serotonin in his blood stream stabilizes at a higher level.
Serotonin has many functions and some of them are still unclear, but one of the well-known functions of serotonin is that of a powerful vasoconstrictor, I.E., it causes a temporary narrowing of the veins. One obvious effect of temporarily narrowing veins is the male penile erection. So, from a purely biochemical point of view, one can safely say that the combined effects of noradrenaline and serotonin in the "Alpha" Dominant Male will promote sexual arousal and activity. This can help to explain the fact that the "Alpha" Male is generally the most sexually active male within a group..
It is significant that this only applies to the Genetically Dominant Male. It has long been established that certain animals are genetically predisposed to dominance. When such an Alpha is removed from his role, there will usually be much disorder and aggressive "displays" among the remaining males to establish which will eventually assume the role of dominant, but when the battles for supremacy are over, the victor's serotonin level will not rise to the level of the genetic Alpha. Other experiments have shown that injecting serotonin into non-dominant males will not make them more dominant and although Females use serotonin, these studies produced no evidence to indicate a connection between female dominant behavior and serotonin levels.
The Nature/nurture debate has raged unabated for many years, but the scale is slowly tipping under the weight of evidence indicating that Human behavior and specifically emotional behavior is heavily influenced by our genetic programming. The research cited here and many similar studies lead one to the conclusion that there is certainly, a link between Dominant/submissive behavior patterns and basic brain chemistry. Although these studies may not conclusively prove the concept, they indicate clearly that "Alpha" Dominant traits are to a great extent, determined by genetics, and that serotonin is produced in greater quantity by the genetic "Alpha" to support his Dominant role. It seems a few thousand years of "civilization" cannot cleanly erase, hundreds of millions of years of successful genetic adaptations and despite the social bias against BDSM, D/s and EPE, it is apparent that there is a real, natural, genetic, basis for these feelings, urges and behaviors.