From the Discussion Series at the #D/s_Lighthouse

Sensory Deprivation
Some Enlightenment About Darkness
And Loss of Good Sense

by
jade


What is Sensory Deprivation?

Here's the definition straight from "Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns" by Philip Miller and Molly Devon. "Sensory deprivation: Restricting or diluting a submissive's ability to use one or more of his/her senses of touch, hearing, sight, taste, or smell as a part of an SM scene." This means depriving the submissive of input from the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and nerve endings in the skin.

Limiting some senses in not too difficult a task and can be performed with little or no actual risk to the submissive. When we begin to approach total deprivation of the senses we substantially elevate the difficulty and risks involved. Before undertaking any activity such as this, you need to be informed of the techniques, risks and skills needed to make this an enjoyable event and not a disaster.

How to Begin

There is very little special equipment needed to begin an exploration in the effects and benefits of sensory deprivation- S.D. All that's required are a few household items, some common sense and a willing participant. Assuming that you have those things, including the participant, you can begin with the easiest step first.

  • Sight - Blindfolding is the simplest of all the experiments into sensory deprivation. I'm sure that the majority of you have experienced either being blindfolded or tying one on someone else. It can be accomplished with a soft cloth, silk scarf or elaborate lifestyle-type blindfold. The effects are the same; the submissive cannot see. Pretty simple stuff.

  • Hearing - Ear plugs or padded ear covers are about all you need to block sound from entering the ear. There's little danger involved, other than incorrectly inserting an ear plug, and the effect can be quite nice with little effort or expense. Methods can range from swimmer's ear plugs or cotton balls to very complex hoods that can incorporate more than just blocking sound.

  • Smell - Not much needed here and it's often the last thing we think of blocking. Very often the scene of smell cannot be inhibited due to the need for the submissive to breath when gagged or the mouth blocked in other ways. Very little special equipment is needed and it can be accomplished with tape, cotton or a Band-Aid. (Use some caution when experimenting with limiting anyone's air passages.)

  • Taste - Again, not a complicated issue. The mouth is closed or kept empty and there is nothing special needed. A gag can be used to enhance the feeling of loss of sensory input from the mouth and tongue but be sure that you do not try to deprive both the sense of taste and smell simultaneously by blocking both the nose and the mouth. We want to limit senses, not kill someone.

  • Feel - This is the most difficult of the group. The body is covered with nerve endings and blocking all of them is down-right impossible. The best you can do is limit the amount of stimulation the skin receives by covering it with something. Most effective and least complicated is the use of mittens to deprive the hands of the ability to feel or identify objects. The most complete way to block the sense of touch is to wrap the entire body, either in bandages or plastic wrap. There are latex and vinyl body suits that do limit but not completely block the skins ability to sense.

What is to be gained from this?

Now the BIG question....WHY? In a lifestyle where we seem so focused on feeling things, why would anyone want to limit feelings of any kind? There are several reasons this is desirable and each produces a different result for the submissive and dominant.

  • Control. Taking away one of the body's natural ways to defend itself and be prepared to react to information it receives is a very effect way to increase control over that body and mind. It makes the submissive more vulnerable and gives the dominant another tool to use in gaining more control over the submissive.

  • Enhancing the other senses. When one sense is removed, the other senses kick into high gear to try to compensate for the loss of input from that sense. We often read about how a blind person's hearing is much more acute than a seeing person's or how a deaf person has developed a keener sense of touch to pick up the vibration from things they cannot hear.

  • Anticipation. Removing any of the senses increases the submissive's anticipation of what is going to happen. We all know that anticipation is one of the dominant's most effective tools. It alone can enhance a submissive's responses and erotic pleasure. Add a few other little tricks and you have a very delightful situation for both submissive and dominant.


Incorporating Various Forms of S.D.

Once you've experimented with each individual sense, you might want to begin depriving your submissive of two or more senses at the same time. You've had great success with the blindfold or ear plugs separately, so try both together. The sensations are magnified proportionately. The submissive is made more vulnerable and there is a noticeable upswing in the power exchange. Being made "blind and deaf" puts the submissive on the edge and sends them deeper into dependence on their dominant and puts them more in touch with their other feelings.

One very good piece of equipment to use for this purpose is a well-constructed hood. One that is correctly made can block hearing, sight and taste with little discomfort to the submissive. It might not be attractive to everyone, but it does do the job it was designed for. Most submissives experience a feeling of helplessness and some slight humiliation when being hooded. They're suddenly transformed into a semi-object by losing their identity: their face. This may or may not be a desirable effect for everyone, but it is an experience worth exploring. Dominants often say that they dislike hoods because they cannot see the expression on the face of the submissive during subsequent activities. Too be sure, this is an individual decision for all involved.

What is it like?

How does it all work together for enjoyment for both? Well, to best answer that I'll have to use some personal experiences to explain it. Every person probably reacts differently and the level of enjoyment may not be as high for one couple as it is for another. So, with that in mind, here are some of the things that I experienced in sensory deprivation.

It Began With The Blindfold:
At first, I sort of thought it was a bit silly to be blindfolded; after all, what could this do to teach me anything about submission? Once the blindfold was in place and I'd stopped giggling, I noticed a very quick change in my attitude. Suddenly, I wasn't sure of what was going on around me. I began straining to try to hear what was happening in the room. My brain was trying to find something, ANYTHING, to help me cope with not being able to see. Every sound became important. A rustling sound over there...the head turns to try to locate its source. A footstep....who is it? Where are they going? Is someone else here that I don't know? Suddenly, every sound took on great importance and I noticed my entire body had reacted to try to gather information.

I felt vulnerable, slightly afraid and strangely naked, although I still had on clothing. The sound of my Master's voice became paramount to me. I NEEDED to hear it...to be reassured by it that I was safe...to be comforted. When there was no noise, I felt almost totally helpless. Where is He? What is He doing? Did He leave me here? Gawd, the anticipation level was building.

When I heard sounds I tried to interpret them. What is He going to do? A slap of His crop on His hand echoed through me--my body reacted as though it had felt it. And when I was touched, even in the most gentle way, the feeling was magnified tremendously. My brain swirled, trying to figure out what it was that touched my check. Was it a feather? Was it a fingertip? I noticed I was sniffing the air trying to find more information. I could smell Master's cologne. I could tell when He was closer by the increase in the scent. I could smell the soft leather flogger that had touched my cheek. Ohh gawd, what is He going to do with that??

Every nerve in my body had kicked in--was trying to find more of what kind of situation I was in. An object was placed in my hand and I was trying to determine what it was. Was it warm or cold...hard or soft...suddenly EVERYTHING was important.

You can see how this could be an unexpected enhancement to what the submissive feels. So what does the dominant receive? A sense of power--control. A dominant becomes like the cat who has captured a mouse and is toying with it. Just when the mouse thinks it's free, Pounce!! The cat has it again. It's the same in this situation. As the submissive adjusts to one feeling she/he cannot see, the dominant adds another. A pinch or tweak on a sensitive area becomes an explosion of feeling. Withdrawing from the submissive and standing in silence has her/him squirming with anticipation and building their dependence on even a sound from the dominant.

As each additional sense is removed the feelings intensify. Remove hearing, now blind and deaf, the submissive's sense of smell is super-acute. Their body surface begins to try to receive information. Even the subtle movement of air is noticed. Each thing brings a new response as the brain tries to compensate for the loss of its normal sources of input.

Something touches your lips and your nose is searching for a scent--your tongue tries to taste and feel what it is. (You better have some real level of trust built up for this part) The taste buds are incredibly stimulated and that piece of chocolate never tasted so sweet or smelled so wonderful.

What happens when ALL senses are blocked or diluted? This is a difficult one to explain. First of all, we need to know how it is accomplished. Mummification is the most effective way I know of. The limbs are individually wrapped, often with elastic bandages or gauze. Once this is done, the eyes and ears are covered with cotton and the head is carefully wrapped with gauze, avoiding the nose and throat to prevent smothering or choking.

Often the mouth is blocked so that no sound can be made or the sense of taste stimulated by extending the tongue. Once this is done, the entire body is wrapped, like a mummy, and left motionless on a comfortable, flat surface.

There is a form of mummification where where the body is wrapped in plastic wrap, such as Saran Wrap®. It's not as effective as the above method, but it does give most of the same sensations of helplessness and blocks most of the senses. It has the advantage of being more attractive than the bandage method. Remember, plastic wrap is see-through so the dominant will be able to watch the submissive's reactions and responses more easily. It can be a very erotic sight for the dominant as the submissive's body responds to sensual arousal.

What happens now is an incredible transformation. The brain begins to search for any responses to the senses: Smell is gone, no sight, no sound. It concentrates on the feeling of its skin. In a short time there is little input from the body's surface as it adjusts to the wraps. The only feeling is one of nothingness. The sound of your own breathing is deafening. You hear your heart beating. You completely internalize all feeling. There is no awareness of time. Has it been an hour? Two hours? A day? How long have I been here? Where am I? What will happen to me?

This feeling is replaced by the strangest feeling of freedom I've ever experienced. Breathing slows, the pulse rate drops and levels. You're aware that you have no control at all. You're totally helpless and you dive deep within your own self until you're suddenly freed of your body. It's like an out of body experience. Your mind is freed and floats. It becomes a different type of subspace. Instead of one brought on by an overload of sensation, this one is brought on by total deprivation of sensation.

When the dominant determines that this has gone far enough and begins to remove all the wraps, there is an almost painful reaction to any sensory input. Being touched is intense. The sound of His voice is a crescendo. The flood of smells from His body and yours fills your brain. When your eyes adjust to the light, every detail stands out in everything you see. Your body has become one giant sensory organ and is reveling in each thing it experiences. Every touch, sound, sight and smell is new and fresh and extremely sensual. The submissive needs a slow down time and to be gently lead back to a normal state by calming words and gentle reassurance from the dominant. Once this has occurred, there can be a powerful reawakening of sexual energy and release.

A few different kinks

There are different types of mummification that seem to add their own special touch. One of them is "Artistic Wrapping" and it can be a very erotic experience for both the dominant and submissive. In this particular activity, the body is wrapped in plastic wrap as in normal mummification, but there is an added touch. Other objects are wrapped along with the submissive's body to enhance the artistic effect and affect. An example would be using roses, long-stemmed ones, when wrapping. One is placed in the submissives hands and pressed to her belly as the wrapping begins. Another is placed between the breasts, with the thorny stem touching lightly against one nipple or soft curve. As the layers of wrap increase, so does the pressure on the stems. Perhaps one was added to the crevice between the buttocks or against the inner thighs and provides exquisite pressure as the wrap tightens.

Another item often used is fruit. A ripe, peeled banana between the thighs, ripe strawberries on each breast, clusters of grapes at the base of the spine and a few other garnishments can turn the submissive into a delicious work of art and a tasty treat when the wrap is removed. Use your own imagination and have fun with the experience.

Another version of the full body wrap is to leave certain parts of the body exposed and available for stimulation. When wrapping the chest and breasts, the nipples are left exposed or the buttocks or genitals when wrapping the lower part of the body. The exposed areas become super-charged with feeling and any touch can cause quite a reaction. Spanking the exposed buttocks when the rest of the body is totally helpless and devoid of sensation is almost unbearably pleasurable. And you can only imagine what nipple stimulation could cause under the same conditions. It's important that you keep in mind that the erotic pleasure/pain is extremely elevated and you need to reduce the intensity of the stimulation to compensate.

Words of Caution !

  • Any kind of sensory deprivation activities, including simple blindfolding, must be accompanied by a level of trust that will compensate for the feelings of fear and anxiety that this activity might stimulate. Go slowly...don't do too much too fast. This is supposed to be a pleasurable activity, not torture!! Make sure your submissive is ready and willing to try this. Give her/him reassurance to build her/his comfort level as you continue. Be keenly aware of any changes in breathing or body signals that indicate the submissive is struggling too hard with this. This is VERY, VERY important in mummification or hooding. We do not want a panic attack, just some nice anticipation and a tingling of the unknown. Don't progress too quickly and calm and comfort your submissive as you move on to the next step. If they begin to panic, stop and cool them down before attempting to continue.

  • Be safe above all things. Make sure you have a way to quickly undo anything used to block the senses. Again, this is CRITICAL in mummification. Have bandage scissors handy and make sure you know HOW to reassure your submissive as you remove the bonds or restrictions. No matter how good you are, removing bandages and/or wrap takes some time and it's much easier if it's done on someone who has not gone over the edge and is struggling wildly.

  • Make sure that you have provided a safe place for this activity. Your submissive will not be able to sense dangers with her/his sense impaired. When using any mummification, provide support for the submissive, if standing. They will have no way to prevent a fall if they should begin to lose their balance. A couple of alternatives is leaning the submissive against a supporting pole and wrapping them to it or putting a supporting rope under the arms that is attached to a point above their head before wrapping the body. Having additional hands to catch or balance them is helpful too. Otherwise, it is only to be done while reclining. (This increases the difficulty of wrapping the body but is much safer.)

  • Never, I repeat, NEVER leave your submissive for a second when they are unable to remove any kind of sensory blocks or bonds. This is true when using only bondage as well. You cannot divert your attention when someone is helpless and unable to assist themselves. Do not leave the room even for a quick bathroom break. Make other plans to accommodate this need. And while I'm on this topic, make sure that the submissive has emptied their bladder BEFORE you begin such a lengthy process as mummification. "I have to pee, Master" is not something you'll likely want to hear just as you finish the last wrap.

  • Prepare for the unexpected. Until you've both experimented with sensory deprivation, you do not know what kind of reaction you might have. During some of these activities, your submissive will have difficulty using her/his safeword so you will need to plan something that will notify you when she/he wants to stop. In full mummification there is very little way for the submissive to signal distress other than snorting or flaring the nostrils. They are going to be depending on you totally for their well-being. You need to be experienced and have a very trusting, supporting relationship to take on this kind of activity. It's not for novices and it might not be for some of the more experienced members either. It's much wiser and safer to settle for a little less than the extreme situation. For example, not blocking the submissive's ability to speak when mummified would be a safer alternative than having her/him go into a panic attack that could seriously risk their physical and emotional state.

Summary

It's a wonderful way to experience a deeper and more dependent interaction between submissive and dominant. The lighter forms have little or no danger but can dramatically enhance the erotic level of your intimate times together. The more involved methods, while having a risk factor, can produce responses that will totally amaze both of you. Like anything else in our lifestyle, these things need to be done slowly and carefully. Enjoy each step throroughtly before moving to another level. Each one has it's own wonderful effects and you need to savor them before speeding along. Do EVERYTHING with safety in mind. Consider the risks before attempting anything that could end up with an unexpected ending. When it's all done correctly it will deepen the bonds of trust and pleasure between you.

Copyright© 1997 by jade
All rights are reserved by the author.