BDSM (sadism and masochism, bondage and discipline and dominance and submission) fans of the world, it turns out there's more benefits than you might think to your kinky sex habit—after psychologists discovered it can help bring about "the flow" and pleasures associated with it.
And by "the flow", scientists mean an altered state of mind where one is totally absorbed in a task, and the brain is at its most productive and creative. Oooh. Plus, according to new findings at Northern Illinois University, the pleasures associated with S&M could reduce psychological stress and its negative effects.
They put this to the test by recruiting 14 experienced BDSM-ers who identified as "switches" (they can be assigned to the submissive "bottom" or dominant "top" role), and asked them to act out seven BDSM scenes, provide saliva samples and answer a survey designed to test their state of consciousness.
Their findings suggested the bottom role was linked to some aspects of the flow, including hypofrontality—which is where time apparently appeared to slow for the participants. In the dominant state, the flow was even stronger, meaning participants' brains were very much at their most creative.
If BDSM isn't up your street but achieving "the flow" is, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has some advice on how to achieve it. He comments :"It will be when your challenges are higher than average and skills are higher than average. That area there, will be when you are doing what you really like to do—play the piano, be with your best friend, perhaps work, if work is what provides flow for you.
"There's this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback."
So, in kinky sex or otherwise—have you achieved "the flow" yet and do you think it's as surprising a health benefit as these findings suggest?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.