I've been Googling further (terms like "sex porn addiction dopamine"). I need to read around this, but what I've found so far is interesting:
Wanting and Satisfaction
- Wanting and Satisfaction are different.
It's entirely possible to want something - or be excited by it - but not enjoy or like it very much. It's why shopaholics buy crap, then come back for more.
- Satisfaction quenches Wanting, but then sparks it off again.
We have a good experience, we want it again... so repeated kinky activity or fantasies can intensify the desire for that activity.
- Random and often low-level satisfaction increases intensity of Wanting.
This explains gambling addiction, and the draw of unrequited love.
- The animal part of the brain experiences things first and does so naively: it can't tell the difference between real and pretend.
This is why porn arouses us, even though we can't have sex with the girl in the picture, and why irrational phobias still paralyse us.
It also means that everything that happens in BDSM is "real".
- For evolutionary reasons, Submission produces satisfaction.
There's scientific evidence to support this. It makes sense because animals that persistently fought the pack's dominant would have no chance to breed surreptitiously (being dead), and packs where everybody was always challenging the pecking order would die out.
This has to be the foundation of most masochistic urges.
- For evolutionary reasons, Fear and Guilt related to sex intensify wanting (i.e. excitement)
The brave and transgressive breed more! This explains the pull of the dark, and the delicious thrill we feel when contemplating terrible fates for ourselves.
- If you're aroused enough Pain is also pleasure, but the animal brain still reads it as an attack.
This resolves one of those central contradictions, I think. You can be getting off on a beating, while still resisting it and pleading.
- Pain is Satisfying, afterwards
Even when the pain is too intense to be pleasurable, its cessation releases a flood of happy chemicals, so triggering more desire....
- Our (let's call it) Conscious Self can decide it's safe despite the (very real) bad feelings. These emotions then intensify our excitement, i.e. Wanting
This is why people ride roller coasters, and consume Horror films, and other things that "scare" them. The fear is real, but they still pay their money and take their seat. It's also why we masochists come back for more, and yet would hate to be beaten up for real.
Those of us who seek out safe ways of experiencing negative emotions are perverting our survival mechanisms for kicks - it's the equivalent of getting off on the vibrations from the motor that turns the early warning radar.
So, we are Perverts. (Yippee!)
- The Conscious Self can become confused or neutralised.
Standards can slip. People can take greater and greater risks, or lose their moral compass. This explains Porn Addiction, but is of more interest to writers of erotica.
It also roots our masochism firmly on our psychology.
The components of our masochism are simple, but interact in complicated ways. Most importantly, they are distinct systems, so cannot cancel each other out: the paradoxes are an illusion and can never be neatly resovled.
- On a primal level, we experience cruelty as real and uncomfortable.
- If we think we are safe, the cruelty excites us or satsifies us, either directly or indirectly.
- Some evolutionary wiring underpins our masochism.
- Our personality still determines which taboos we want to break.