Before I write this, I firstly want to reassure everyone that this is not an article that informs the reader on how they should or should not be a submissive, boy or pup. Rather this article is drawn from my experiences and how I navigated between the different headspaces. It should be noted that no one person is the same, and has different experiences, some purely identify as pups while others as slaves, submissive, Handlers, Dominates, etc. And some are switches or have a combination which makes them that unique individual. Why go to so much trouble stating the obvious? Because in my experience you need to.
Why this subject, I get to that shortly… Firstly a bit about how I play, I identify as male, am gay, and part of my identity includes being a leather pup, sometimes a skin pup… Yet there are other sides of my kinky self, I love all forms of BDSM, I am a submissive, while very bratty and challenging to any Dom, many consider me an Alpha in my communities, yet I also identify as a boy. Why is this important, I am hopeful that this allow the reader to see where I draw my experiences from.
This subject was chosen for me, by a Dominant who while we were interacting was able to observe me fluidity switch between head-spaces, from pup, to boy, to puppy to brat and back again. Mostly my personas are submissive.
What is head-space or sub-space: the term headspace or one of its variations such as sub space, puppy space, drop and other such terms. What does this mean? Head space is generally considered to be an altered state of consciousness within BDSM play that is used to ‘lose yourself’ in a scene. It is described as a state of mind whereby the body’s endorphin’s, enkephalin’s and adrenaline take over the mind and produce a morphine like effect. It’s what takes over our mind when we engage in various activities, some considered risky sexual practices, or Animal play such as pup play (that may have nothing to do with a sexual act)
It varies between individuals, but head space is a period whereby there is an altered state of reality. Headspace is a period whereby the individual enters an altered psychological state that manifests itself into physical and emotional actions, images, feelings and thoughts that have been brought on by a dramatic increase in adrenaline and endorphin that will occur during a scene. It’s hard to explain without sounding odd – but let’s try…. To see full article BDSM Headspace
Above I mentioned pup space and puppy space, I define these two differently, one is almost the state that I am in mostly and that is like a pup headspace, that shares my thoughts with the happenings of the real world around me, and then there is puppy-space, now for me that can be either, headspace only, so being in the moment right now or sexual or both, depending on the environment or the scene.
Boy space for me is similar to what many in the Kink community refer to as sub-space. The boy is the one out of all my submissive spaces and will be happy partaking in the heavier BDSM activities.
The pup or puppy are much softer headspaces, and sometimes do not involve any BDSM activities except the D/s Dynamic component. There may not be any sexual acts that occur, and while this can be debated to the hill by both sides of the argument to what constitutes a sexual act, for now this is a debate that I will not engage in.
When in a scene that may cross over or evolve from pup to puppy to boy or even handler requires the learned ability to do this in a way that is fluid without causing undue stress on the mental capacity to cope with the various stimulation of the activity at present or damaging (hurting) the space that your currently in while traversing or transitioning to the next head-space and sometimes back again. At times this may be having both headspaces in the fore front at the same time, which takes a lot of energy, both mental and emotionally.
An example of this; if I Pup out as Scout and then Spanky pup comes to the fore front or even the boy. They each have their own unique persona and traits that can be identified as their own. They are different states of consciousness.
The BDSM scene has had an insight into this with the idea of that being in an “head space” is imperative to a scene. What being in a head space entails is an altered psychological state which is induced by adrenaline and endorphin spikes that often occur during a scene. Often the scene manifests into specific actions, feelings and thought processes which may or may not normally exist outside that scene. The practice often prepares the body for the activity that is occurring, or about to occur depending on the scene. The ‘head space’ is a crucial aspect to the enjoyment of a scene and immersing one’s self into the activity taking place. This is known as being “in the zone” or being in the “in the moment”. Surely such an ideology can transcend into sexual practices? If each individual has a different head space that they use when they experience sex, it can lead to them experiencing a different type of sex. If we consider it, this would explain the idea of emotional sex, passionate sex, lustful sex, primal sex and the variety of different activities that occur. It could also explain the idea of masturbatory regret. For example, masturbatory regret is the idea that an individual feels shame and embarrassment at the type of sexual stimulation that they were using in the quest to achieve sexual climax. In BDSM and fetishes head space is something that can occur with any of the individuals within a specific scene. Head space is often labelled by their role in the scene. For example, subspace, top space, Dom space, pony space and puppy space.
After many discussion with various community members, I have coined the idea of a headspace cycle. The cycle is to assist in illustrating how entering into headspace for a play scene or event may look like. Of course this is on my experiences, and may differ from person to person, as many things do in this community and a person’s psyche.
The human psyche is the mind or soul. It is the centre of an individual’s emotions, thought and behaviour. The psyche controls the individual’s response to his environment. The etymology of the word refers to the animating spirit of the individual.
According to McLeod; Sigmund Freud defined the human psyche as consisting of the id, ego and superego. According to Freud, these three aspects of the psyche developed at different stages of maturity. The id is impulsive and demands immediate satisfaction, while the ego helps to mediate its demands with the real world. The super ego incorporates the values and norms of the world around the individual.
Carl Jung further refined the description of the psyche to include a collective unconsciousness. He saw the psyche as existing since birth. Jung taught that the psyche was not just the result of one’s environment. He spoke of the self as the whole of the psyche, the persona as the part of the psyche that developed for personal convenience, and the shadow as carrying the things an individual was unwilling to admit about himself.
Cognitive psychology, which gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, after Freud and Jung, prefers the word mind to psyche. It teaches that the way to understand behaviour is to understand the workings of the brain in processing information. Cognitive psychology remains the most popular school of thought as of 2014.
According to Freud’s model of the psyche, “the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories…”
Therefore Headspace would certainly be a part of Freud’s id, the original thought of the headspace cycle was, Engaging persona – entering head space – deep headspace – returning to real life (RL) – Drop. As like any idea, with thought, guidance and discussion I further developed the model to create a more in-depth cycle as illustrated below.
Engaging Persona – In my experience as I enter a play scene, a mosh, much or a kinky environment or event that will cause a response, thus allowing me to engage one of my personas, similar to when I am about to start work in the Kitchen, It could be argued that we all have a professional persona, therefore I have a chef persona. When attending an event such as a MOSH normally Pup Scout is engaged and commences entering into headspace. This does not mean that half way through the event or even the scene that Spanky wont want to be engaged, commencing the cycle of engaging a different persona and entering into headspace.
Entering Headspace – This is where you generally considered to be entering into an altered state of consciousness, this would be the beginning, the triggers that make you tick and start to prepare for the scene or event ahead.
In Headspace – You have gone past the triggers of engaging the desired headspace or persona and are now in what many refer to as the zone, sub / dom space or puppy space. This is when the characteristics of the persona start to come to the for front and you engaging your desires the primitive and instinctual part of your altered state of consciousness.
Deep Headspace – This is different for each individual, however here I generally feel there are different levels if this altered state of consciousness, similar to that of sleep patterns, you have different levels so the deeper you go the higher the level of headspace, making it more difficult to return to RL in a shorter period. Another analogy of this is the higher the high so the more naturally occurring chemicals which are exhibited the bigger the potential drop can be, this is both for sub and Dom.
Coming Out of Headspace: Returning to Real Life (RL) – This is the stage when play or the scene or event is coming to an end, and you commence the transition back to RL. At this stage after care may also be provided, and should be where ever required. This stage of the cycle may be long or short it depends on the individual, their experience and how deep they were in headspace. There are various methods different people use to return to RL thinking. Keep in mind that after care may be required after this stage, as some people may continue to ride the wave of the the high experienced from the activity whilst in the zone or headspace. I have know both Dom’s and subs to ride this wave for up to 3 days.
While in RL mode, you may still have parts of your persona out, this is an individual trait, for me a part of my puppy-ish ways or bratty side is always on display… If you experience a wave of these wonderful emotions then you need to understand that this is natural, but aftercare must be considered as essential to the planning of any event or activity.
Drop – (sometimes called sub drop, Dom drop and “The Mondays”) is an experience with similar characteristics of depression that occurs after an intense SM scene. It is caused by adrenaline and endorphin crashes after the adrenaline and endorphin spikes that may occur during a scene. Drops may occur straight after the scene or even hours or a couple of days latter, also event drops occur as we generally use a lot of energy whist at a kinky event – see link for full article: BDSM WIKI – DROP
Reflection: This may not always occur, but many of us do reflect on the event or scene that we have just endured, as it may be gentle or a little rough to extreme. This reflection is normal, as it helps with growth and development and enables us to create better connections with either our Dominate or submissive.
Multiple Headspaces: If indeed that there is a headspace cycle, as described above each different headspace would also have its own beginning and end, with potential overlaps. Visualising this is complex as this experience would be as individual and unique for each person or even each activity. Meaning if someone was able to traverse through various headspaces (keeping in mind that some kinky people may only have one space) they may be indifferent stages of the cycle, they may not even complete the cycle and stay in a suspend state of that headspace while they experience the other. An example is if I am in puppy headspace and I move into another form of heavier activity such as impact play with maybe the combination of restraints and rope, the pup may transition to the boy space while at the same time transverse with the sexualised side. Therefore while the pup may still be somewhat engaged he moves to the back while the boy who is now more engaged moves to the for-front.
The further issue with this is returning back to real life as the scene or event finishes all headspaces return back to their real life state. Then we have the drops so the pup for me is known to drop much faster then the boy, so while the boy may still be riding the wave from the scene the pup may not be travelling so well, and drop from the experience.
The Effects of slipping between Headspaces:
As I have not been able to find much written about slipping between Headspaces in BDSM, this is purely based on my own experiences.
Traversing between different personas and headspaces, I have experienced this several times during an event or a scene. What I have experienced when traversing through headspaces is that I tend to drop at different times, with the various personas. I can say for sure it is a roller coaster ride, the best way to describe it is one half wants to curl up and have cuddles or feel shitty, the other side is riding a high of what just occurred. This then causes the side on the down to want to re-engagement the activity to get another experience, commencing the cycle from the start, or not completing the cycle… causing for further overlapping. A state of confusion may occur, where you question why you feeling down and at the same time so great, causing what many refer to as a mind fuck.
You may even question your own abilities or identity. Without clarity it may prevent future engagement with the personas and finding it more difficult to drop into headspace, meaning you may not be able to play. This may also put strain on the D/s if not communicated and discussed.
Open Communication is key to any successful D/s relationship.
The issue I found when I tried reengage the cycle again to try and get a lift on the persona that is having the drop, this is not only is this both time consuming, and in our current lifestyles we are generally all time poor, but it also takes a lot of energy, commitment by both the Dominant and the submissive. I also ignore why I was feeling low and not allow the time needed to readjust.
This can certainly take its impact on the various sub spaces, as it is my belief you need to complete the cycle and have the required aftercare and allow yourself to return to RL sate. If you are playing with one dominate, it can also have a burden impact on them as you will be consuming more of the energies required for such a extension of the session, and the additional aftercare that is now required. Remember we are time poor and this needs to always be factored in.
A negative consequence on the Dominant preventing them from providing their own care as they are more concerned with the submissive who is experiencing a potential high and drop at the same time, whilst reflecting and having to return to RL.
If your playing with more then one dominate, you may be able to have additional play, but be aware of your state of mind, as this has the potential to have an impact on the scene or the aftercare. There are many times that unless the Dominates and part of a leather family structure, communication may be missed or avoided by the submissive, not allowing for proper required aftercare.
The energies required to slip between headspaces are on multiple levels, and this is what forms the required connections and bonds between Dominate and submissive, The Dominate needs to watch these and react when occurs especially if they are controlling the play, and allow the submissive enough time to transact with the correct headspace required.
It needs to be noted that these energies are emotional, physical and physiological. This what allows us to play how we choose. Thus; allowing for these very strong connections and bonds that we form. The impacts of traversing through headspaces may cause burn out. Or have personas that may be gentler to become easily hurt, by a mistake that the play went more extreme and not allowing the submissive to navigate the various headspaces, especially if they are already in a deep state of altered consciousness. Being in the incorrect headspace for the required scene would also be damaging for the submissive. This is more likely to happen with those who slip between headspaces during one session.
I found that when slipping between various headspaces takes longer to digest what has occurred this can have potential negative impacts on my real life as I will require a longer period to return to my real life state as I may still be reflecting whilst attempting to do my job or worst still ignore the emotional state that tends to go hand in hand with a sub-drop. I must be careful not to allow or to prevent the correct after care being provided which has the ability to damage the connection and the bond required in a D/s relationship.
Finally this brings me personal responsibility. While we all play using the golden rules of BDSM – Safe Sane and Consensual (SSC) or RACK – Risk Aware Consensual Kink I feel it is also the personal responsibly of both the submissive and the Dominant to ensure that not only the engagement of the activity is safe and active consent provided but the correct after care is provided, so when I play or attend an event I prefer to practice PRICK – Personal Responsibility Informed Consensual Kink. This ensures that when traversing through headspaces I can communicate my needs to the Dominate and we can both take personal responsibility for our actions to ensure we are both safe.
McLeod, S. A. (2016). Id, Ego and Superego. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html
Headspace Cycle Illustration designed by – Pup Zeke
How to cite this article:
Bullivant, S. B. (2017). The effects of slipping between headspace’s. Retrieved from https://leatherpup.me/2017/07/26/the-effects-of-slipping-between-headspaces/