Thursday, March 19, 2009

Soapbox Thursday: Rationality and Depression

Do many submissives suffer from depression ? At what point would you consider them mentally incompetent? What sort of man considers himself DOM to a medicated woman? The SSC mantra and philosopihies of Good DOM responsibility seem to be some sort of depressive magnet. How to sort the wheat from the chaff good people ?

Rationality and the stigma of depression.

The above excerpt is taken from a discussion in Fetlife (waves to the VanImp = read here ). The Imp gave me the initial head’s up and in few subsequent conversations, we both felt pretty strongly about the absurdity and insulting nature of the suppositions encompassed by that query.

Blanket statements made by socially inept, role playing individuals who have more hair than sense (and sometimes, not even that) are a particular irritant that I find difficult to ignore.

Granted, I find the patent absurdity of the online creative writers’ world sometimes mystifyingly amusing. I’m particularly chuffed at the individuals who present themselves as ‘experts’ (despite the reality that the closest they ever got to actually wielding a flogger is beating their laundry), and then proceed to rant about situations about which they have no insight and absolutely nothing valuable to offer.

One theme I have seen arise more than once is the belief concerning mental competence and rationality. In short, there is a widespread belief that suffering from depression or some other form of psychological or emotional imbalance somehow renders the individual incompetent and irrational and incapable of making balanced decisions respecting their lives.

I find this irritating in the extreme as this same mindset is prevalent in society generally.

While it is indisputable that some more extreme forms of chemical imbalance, left untreated and unmedicated, can render someone realistically incapable of making a balanced decision, MANY forms of depression (which most decidedly should be unlinked from other forms of psychological impairment) are simply mindsets that rational people deal with on an ongoing basis.

Perceptions can be wrong

I have also noted that often blanket statements are made (and I abhor blanket statements) that MANY submissives suffer from depression as if the act of submission (more so, if there is masochism involved) in itself renders a person’s rationality questionable.

I think there are a number of factors here.

First, I think people tend to be more candid (AHH, my own blanket statement!) on BDSM-related forums. In many cases, it is the first time they have feel comfortable admitting to what is considered by society generally to be a degenerate mindset. Thus, I think admitting to depression (whether using medications or not) is simply a baby step further.

My own perusal of many of those forums ALSO lead me to conclude that there is a certain “shock” factor that just cannot be resisted by some individuals.

Second, one of the most prevalent myths I think (and this is actually related to a further blog I’m in the process of writing engendered by one of Gillette’s musings – more to come on that later), is that the BDSM world is somehow becoming “mainstream”… that in fact mainstream society is more accepting, more open and more tolerant of what has been considered deviant behaviour (and I’m talking BDSM-related behaviour). Thus, there is a perception in what is ACTUALLY a rather incestuous community that in fact certain psychoses are more common and active in the general population therein than is the actual reality. Both perceptions I think are completely onerous.

Unfortunately but understandably, catch phrases tend to be bandied about as truths but are really not understood.

SCC .. According to Whom?

SSC for instance.

People lip that phrase repeatedly and with an air of competence and comprehension that defies the reality of the intent. For ultimately SSC is dependent ENTIRELY on the individuals involved! It can’t be quantified nor readily compartmentalized; it is simply too dependent on the individuals involved in a particular scene.

What is safe, sane and consensual for ME may be far from that for another person. I’ve been done this road before when talking about edge play. For instance, my own inclination for breath control is no doubt considered by many to be INsane …. while I in turn have viewed askance (but NOT critically) some of the practices of other far more masochistic/sadistic pairings. At its most simplistic…. “different strokes for different folks” (how weirdly apt, ‘strokes” LOL).

Unfortunately, because there are enough self-important individuals out there that believe they and they alone are competent to judge what is safe, what is sane and what is consensual that one is compelled to challenge their right to make those kind of judgements.

Society Judges

The unfortunate reality is that one of the most common and misconceived reasons for “judging” people lies in the individual assessment of mental competence.

And therein lies the rub.

For society generally continues to harbour unwarranted, unprofessional and misinformed perceptions of what is deemed “mental acuity”. People who either have admitted to suffering from some form of depression or who have in truth been “outed” continue to suffer the consequences of prejudicial opinions of the level of their rationality.

This is particularly onerous when engaged in BDSM activity.

For without fail, detractors start bleating about is that person (usually a submissive although not always) “rationally” able to “consent”.

Um. hello? Since when did google-wisdom become the standard of care for psychiatric evaluation?

I don’t dispute there probably are individuals out there that should be doing anything BUT practicing some of the more edgy activities in BDSM – but barring they have escaped from an institution or are certifiable (in a medical sense and have in fact BEEN certified to be clear), then they are entitled to do whatever (within the law) they are entitled to do. It is paternalistic and condescending to suggest otherwise. For any individual to set themselves up as judge and jury is to my mind, unwarranted, arrogant and ultimately egotistical to an extreme degree.

Not to talk about WRONG.

People suffering from various (and not always quantifiable) forms of depression or even from other psychological or physical impairments simply have conditions that to this day remain largely unexplored or truly understood.

Current research in fact has placed more and more credence that these are simply syndromes, conditions and psychosis that we have not yet been privy to understanding. Conditions that do not in any way impair or impact the ability of the individual to make rational and reasoned choices over their lives.

To return to the quotation which began this diatribe, the prejudice inherent in its presentation is so obvious and blatant that the statement barely warrants addressing. While “arrogant” and “egotistical” are not necessarily detrimental when applied to a dominant personality, they must be accompanied by a commensurate rationality and intelligence to balance.

Referring to “medicated woman” and using terms such as “depressive magnet” (and the breathtakingly ignorant “wheat from the chaff good people” - the inference being, unmistakably, that "depressive" people are the chaff) clearly indicates a level of prejudicial misconceptions and small minded thought that barely deserves addressing.


Loving Annie said...

great rant, selkie - accurate and well deserved to those who in their ignorance prate of what they know not firsthand.

THE Michael said...

Now think about it....considering what the "mainstream" idea of what "normal" is, why would anybody think that BDsm could EVER achieve general acceptance by mainstream society? The idea of tying people up and beating them for ENJOYMENT is NOT something your average person is going to wrap their head around, and no amount of "educating" is going to make it any more "acceptable". And why MUST it be?

I myself am pretty damn openminded, and enjoy fantasies concerning the lifestyle, but I know that who does what to who and what is acceptable boils down strictly to the two (or however many people) involved, and can't be categorized by any so-called "expert" any more than religion can. As accepting and involved as I am, even I wince at much that I see, and could NEVER participate in some of the practices I see displayed on the net. That does not make me intolerant, it simply shows my limits, which I am entitled to as a free individual. I am willing to allow anyone to do anything in private that does not affect me, but please do not insist that I accept as "normal" just any kind of kink simply because enough people enjoy it. I have enough trouble dealing with my own brands of "deviant" thought, and I have no desire whatsoever in demanding that I be allowed to enjoy it in a public forum where no one asks to participate in it.

And no, I am an expert in nothing other than what goes on in my own head, thank you........

Gillette said...

Statistics show that highly intelligent people tend to have more of an interest in kink than others.

Statistics also show that highly intelligent people tend to be more unhappy and get depressed more often than others.

Possible correlation? Makes sense to me. Intelligent people expect lots in life and know the difference when their desires aren't met or they're not experiencing the potential they desire. Big creative energy makes for very high highs and very low lows.

Are their questions being asked from concern and fear? I did not read the article (no time) but perhaps hidden behind their words (judgments, conclusions)is concern and wanting to be sure they are truly doing no harm????

ronnie said...

Great Selkie, I look forward to your Thursday Rant as you call them.
Gillette is right, statistics do show that the more intelligent people have an interest in kink.
I need to go back when I have more time and read the article.

Amber said...

Well, I like Thursday Rants much better than HNT (Half Naked Thursdays). Which seems to have pretty much died as an internet meme after a good couple-years run. Thank god; I'm just not a visual person when it comes to sex. I'd surf to my regular blog reads on Thursday and then hastily click out again. I like seeing my partner nekkid and that's it. Say, that makes me strange right there, doesn't it? I mean, the entire WORLD runs on porn, supposedly. Except for me. I like reading it, don't like looking at it, ew.

Odd one out once again. *grins*

You said: socially inept, role playing individuals who have more hair than sense. BWA-HA-HA! Love it! Well said.

Your rant made me remember the times I've had readers worry about me. And over nothing. More than one reader has expressed fears that my submissiveness would cause me to flounder if anything ever happened to Dan. Like my intelligence was connected to my being sub. Being sub must suck the IQ right out of me. Unable to pay bills anymore, you know? That was the question..."How is Amber going to function in society if something happens to you, Dan?"

Nope, I'm not kidding.

And the first time I innocently talked on my blog about Dan squeezing my neck during sex, something we still find very hot, but omg, you would have thought Dan was using a knife on me. Which is another form of "play" but not one we do. Yet, I could have understood some concern over that but squeezing my neck? The uproar! So after that I had to make sure I put "And YES, we're very careful!" each time I mentioned it. Until I just stopped writing about it, lol.

Re; judging. We all judge, you judged in this piece on the "posers" who have no clue how to hold a flogger and so did I when I laughed along with you. We all do it, we have to. Who we become friends with, who we don't, what do we believe, what don't we believe, etc. As thinking individuals, we are constantly weighing and judging everything we run across. You are reading my words now and weighing their worth; do you agree with this, do you disagree with that, etc. It's a great tool as long as it is not abused. Unfortunately, "abuse" is relative.

I've had people tell me straight out that Dan and I were headed for a divorce because of our dynamic. Gee, too bad we're coming up on 9 years of happy wedded bliss. ;)

They judged me and I judged them right back and judged them stupid.

So, whaddya gonna do? Eh, we're all human. :)

I say, we boycott Fetlife. That will solve *everything*. lol! (I'm kidding, I can't stay away from there either)

Good rant, very thought-provoking.

Liara Covert said...

Peple interpret situations based on their experience, insight or lack of both. Normal is always relative. Readers who enjoyed the theme of your post may choose to consult:

Vestri said...

Hi Selkie!

Great rant!

(and long time no see... how are you?)


Liras said...

People have a hard time leaving others alone to their own devices and designs.

Surely, the outrage a vanilla person feels over BDSM is reciprocated by a kinkster in response to their plain old sexual activities.

I do have limits and when I see people passing them in their own lives, I flinch. But I am also hateful enough to say "that is their choice and if they hurt, oh well".

I do not feel it is my job or purpose to 'rescue' a woman from her D/s activities.

But I am not one to try and save any other adult from anything else, either.

People need to find things to do, instead of prying and poking. We all have a right to live as we choose as long as we are not abusing minors or pets.

vanimp said...

Thank you for writing such a thought provoking piece, as I said to you in private I knew you would write it well and you have acheived that so much more than I could. I am currently involved and have close relatives who suffer from depression and surprisingly or not they too are deemed intelligent. They function normally, they are not mentally incompetent nor are the majority of subs/slaves I have the pleasure of having close relationships with. These roleplaying stoopid types need to quit being so judgemental and living in their self imposed boxes (makes for very boring conversation and viewpoints).
Mwah xxx

selkie said...

Annie – yes, my point exactly – ignorance will out!

Michael – I don’t think kink is or will become mainstream anytime soon … so I don’t think you need to fret!

Gillette – interesting take on this – do they really show that? I didn’t know. It also seems logical when you approach it from that perspective. And frankly, reading the thread, it seems to me quite frankly, the guy is just an idiot who is seeking attention and reaction.

Ronnie – I didn’t know that LOL – I truly didn’t! Does that make me a smart cookie?

Amber – I love your replies LOL – and yes, we all judge – I think the difference lies in awareness that we ARE judging, which hopefully means we exercise some self-critical skills and reassess our gut reactions.

and I think Fet is a pit LOL- I lasted around 3 weeks on it and haven’t been there since! It was a fellow blogger that sent me the link! “Being sub must suck the IQ right out of me.” HAHAHA – guess I’m in trouble! And I have ZERO interest in porn as well, although I occasionally enjoy some well written erotica!

Liara – you’re right, of course, normal is ultimately a subjective perception!

Vestri- HUGS – so good to see you back!

Liras, you bring up one of my own pet peeves – I get TIRED of seeing kinksters constantly referring to “vanilla” as if it is some form of disease! As you point out, each to their own but for god’s sake, can’t we let adults make their choices without finding something to criticize in those choices!

And yes, that is the way I feel about some of the kink; not my thing (flinches and ouchies about some of the practices) but damn it, as long as it turns YOUR crank, have at it!

and yes, ALL bets are off if I see children or animals being hurt….

vanimp … thanks for the head’s up to this – as you saw by my rant, I feel rather strongly about it. I too have had a lot of people in my life that struggle with depression and seeing the continuing stigma attached with admitting to it, steams me BIG TIME.