Hypnosis and Addiction

I grew up with a parent who was/is in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and I grew up afraid to drink when I was in high school, because I was afraid of becoming an alcoholic. I have self control, and impulse control issues that were much worse when I was younger, and what I thought were addictive tendencies have in turn turned out to be gluttony issues. It’s a fine line, but it’s not the same. When you’re an addict, you “can’t” stop, when you’re a glutton, you choose not to.

But, I was lucky, because when I did start really drinking at 19, I only had to deal with the basic idiocy of youth, and the fun of over-doing it until the night’s fun turned to physical misery, and then a day or so later, when that misery would circle back around to the fun of celebrating that over indulgence.

If you’ve gone hard at life at all, you know that, “I was so drunk, and…” is usually the start of a great story.

I got lucky that most of my drinking was confined to hanging out with very good people, and I got even luckier that if the intent wasn’t to drink to excess I could just stop drinking. Yes, even if we had more to drink, if I decided I was done, I was done, and I was told that having that little difference in how I drank was one of the differences between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic. My AA parent told me that if I ever had any doubts about my relationship to drinking then I should ask myself, “Is my drinking making my life, or someone else’s life unmanageable.”

            And that kind of sums up addiction.

            Is it making your life, or even a part of your life, or your health unmanageable? This could be physical or mental health, and while I’m certain there are discrete requirements for certain kinds of addictions to be in the DSM-5 (the big book of psychological disorders), that won’t do us a lot of favors here, so yes, we’ll be using addiction as it’s used in common usage, and that includes what some would define as extreme bad habits, or calling one thing an addiction, when a mental health professional might call it an extreme manifestation of a different kind of psychological disorder.

            So let’s do it, let’s talk about hypnotic addiction… the un-sexy kind.

            There’s a reason we like the idea of addiction suggestions, because so much of addiction comes from being powerless. It’s one of those perfect matches with hypnotism, both in the physical sensations of trance, and in the core concepts. I mean, there’s a reason why for so many people admitting they’re powerless over their addiction is an important part of their recovery.

            (Side note: Not everyone needs the same things in recovery, and not everyone responds the same way to different recovery programs, there’s no right way to get clean, there’s no magic bullet, there’s what works for you, and what doesn’t.)

            Just those words, in a hypno-domme-y context already seem kind of hot to us, because we’re all into psychosexual manipulation, and the loss of self control, like that’s it, that’s the whole thing for so many of us, which is why I literally have no idea how many addiction and dependence sessions I’ve written (probably in the 600ish range). We want the fantasy of being powerless in the face of out desires (which 100% sounds like addiction right), and most of the time, if we develop an unhealthy relationship, or behavior pattern with this fetish, and if we do develop an addiction, those kinds of suggestions have very little to do with it on the implanted subconscious ideation level.

            If we get addicted to hypnosis, it’s not the fun, fantasy sex play, and mind control fantasies, it’s something much more pervasive, and much more powerful, it’s us, it’s who we are.

            When we talk about chemical addictions, we usually assume it’s something that’s primarily physiological, our body craves the chemical, and we go into physical withdrawal if we don’t get it, and that’s the big signal for addiction (because most of us aren’t mental health professionals and aren’t really qualified to talk about this stuff.. I think we all know I’m not, not at that level). These are symptoms that are often described in those hypno-addiction files because the point of the content is to mimic those behavior pattern, but physiological change doesn’t happen because a woman’s hot voice is whispering in your ear.

Withdrawal is real, and we all deal with it in some ways. If you go on a diet, don’t get your coffee, hell, if you don’t exercise enough to get that endorphin release you regularly have, your body tells you what it’s grown accustomed to… and duh, yes, that’s the same for orgasms, but these are all generally more mediated than getting off opioids, or drying out, and that’s because of different physiological impacts of what’s involved (apparently sugar really fucks us up… but I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know…).

But, for the purpose of how we’re using the word, you can be addicted to anything. Video games, shopping, gambling, cheese, sending tributes/buying wish list gifts, listening to sessions, etc. all of these things can be addictions, and we’ll go back to that first question to frame them as: Things that could make your life or someone else’s life unmanageable.

What makes a life unmanageable is complicated, because as people we’re really good at justification and context. We’re also really good at self-deception, so it’s easy for us to lose perspective on ourselves. We’re also really good at using our inherent self-determination to continue to get what we want once we find out what it is, and paired with the whole self-deception thing, we can be hyper motived and unstoppable in our quest for self-destruction

But here’s the other side of it, because I’m not trying to scare anyone, or make anyone perform a fearless and searching moral inventory of themselves here (okay, I picked that piece of jargon up from season 5 of The Wire, when Bubbles goes to NA… shit, The Wire spoilers… sorry…). When I said we’re good at context, what I mean is we’re both good at manufacturing a favorable narrative around what we’re doing because context is a critical element of justification, but we’re also good at keeping things in context.

“I spend a hundred dollars a month on hypno-porn” might sound compulsive and irresponsible (in my case, when I do it, it’s totally ALL OF THOSE THINGS, good thing I don’t do it every month, otherwise I might have a problem…), but if it’s in your means, then the money side isn’t a big deal. And even if you get hypnotized every day, that’s still not a problem, depending on the how’s and why’s of that experience.

The context of our habits matters, and while there’s a certain elegance to the binary of chemical dependency, I know for a fact that my dead junkie friends from middle and high school weren’t junkies because shooting up, or pills were fun, and I know the living addicts in my life that are still using that I do my best to keep at arms reach, aren’t using just because it makes them feel good. I know the people I see on the street every day aren’t like, “You know what’s a good time recreational activity… meth!”

I know that when I put on almost 50 pounds over the last seven years it wasn’t because I “just had to” eat shitty food, or when I got fat for a summer when I was a kid, it wasn’t because all I wanted to do was stay up all night drinking soda, playing video games, and watching MTV (it was 1994, MTV was rad then…) in my grandparents’ basement. None of that made me feel good, it just didn’t make me feel as bad, or it let me feel something good instead of feeling decidedly lonely all the time.

(All my weight gain has been depression related, because sadness is delicious…)

So let’s talk about how hypnosis feels, then we’ll talk about shame, community, and self-destruction.

Trance is a distancing state, it turns the volume in our brains down and we feel removed, sometimes to the point of the annihilation of the self, the absence of awareness that is not sleep, and is not death, because we are still alive, and we are not dreaming.

It’s important to understand the not dreaming part when we have a hypnotic blackout. When we dream our brains process a bunch of shit, and we even have at least some conscious engagement with it, either through memory, or immersion (sometimes lucid dreaming too, I can lucid dream sometimes), which means the conscious mind is still present. Hypnotic oblivion is the closest we can get to that very deep mid-cycle REM state, where we are gone, but sleep is a binary, and it requires its own need. You can’t sleep if you aren’t tired.

Hypnosis is also a cooperative activity, it is an intimate experience, it is allowing someone else in, to be close, to inform your mind and your actions, it is communal, and it is an act of vulnerability. Even stage hypnosis is an act of vulnerability, just as anyone who has ever acted or performed on stage knows that taking direction and putting yourself in front of an audience is an act of vulnerability, even if it is hidden behind a character, or behind the permissive nature of stage hypnotism.

All of this is to say that hypnosis is, or often can be, an act of losing one’s self in another. You stop being you, the conscious, aware, engaged you, and you lose the burden and responsibility of self-control, and in turn self-determination. You also lose your inhibitions, and this isn’t just the suggestible state of mind, or the permissive theory of hypnosis, it is the narrowing of self awareness and the present, or lack of mindfulness that comes with trance, which yes, duh, informs the suggestible state, but I’m bringing this up in relation to the feeling.

It feels good to let go.

It feels good to lose control.

It feels good to surrender.

There’s a reason why every hyno-domme ever has said roughly those same things, because they’re all true, and it’s something what we as humans all seem to crave, just like, because we’re social creatures, we share human connection. So a hypnotist gives us these two powerful needs and desires all at once.

(I wonder if there are any well-known, highly addictive narcotics that obliterate the self…)

And that’s to say nothing about the fact for us hypnosis is a fetish, so that means that instead of simply being vulnerable and intimate it’s also sexual, and as I’ve said before, our sex drives are biologically compulsive things. So when you add all that together, our erotic hypnosis experiences are a simulated/mediated perfect storm of having all of our desires met.

But, as real an experience as it all is, it’s still mediated. It’s still a manufactured service.

It’s still critically different than “real life”, and “real relationships” that have different rules and social contracts, because this is a service, and that can both help us with context and perspective, and also add to the compulsive elements that can lead to addiction.

Here’s how it helps:

We know that it’s a product, a vice, a service, and something we choose to do. It’s like going to a movie, or going out to dinner, or anything else that adds an experience to our lives and takes us out of our routine, even if it is a part of that self same routine. We can normalize the out of the ordinary, but when we keep some critical distance, we keep it in context and respect it for what it is, and deliberately experiencing hypnosis on a day to day basis is not “ordinary” as a whole.

But…

But if we are overly dependent on it to address something else, if we see it as an answer to a problem, instead of an enjoyable diversion, or an appetite we embrace in a healthy way (see also: not making our inner or outter lives unmanageable), then that dependency can and does lead to addiction.

When I was sitting in a basement in a suburb of Cleveland, getting fat off of too much Coca Cola, donuts, and giant sandwiches, it was because it was the first summer of my life that the life I was leaving in Seattle for 6-8 weeks was better than the one I was being sent to back east. I was alone, and isolated, I kept getting swimmer’s ear, and I didn’t feel like anyone back east was “my” friend. So I did the things I liked doing, by myself, all night.
(That’s also how I saw every single episode of Speed Racer…)

I was dependent on all of those things to not feel as alone. It’s an, on the surface, seemingly minor thing to deal with, but our hurts don’t have to be universally big for them to be damaging, they only have to hurt us, and they don’t have to be validated on a universal scale, because we live as individuals, and we are the ones that have to learn to cope with and manage our hurts, and then cope with our maladaptive behaviors. That summer, to make sure there would always be cans of soda available to me, I would hide them in my room in my suitcase that was under the bed, that’s how depressed I was, and that’s how reliant on soda I was to self-medicate and adjust my mood.

Meanwhile, one of the friends I got shipped away from that summer was my next-door neighbor, whose dad beat the shit out of him, who started smoking weed and drinking when we were in sixth grade, and whose coke problem he developed in high school was decidedly not the same kind as mine had a been a few years earlier. One of the reasons our friendship fell apart was that I wasn’t his drug friend, and he wasn’t my let’s do nerd shit friend, but we weren’t that different.

The details of how he and I dealt with out shitty parents and our blooming mental health issues took different paths, but they occupied (occupy?) the same place because, they’re learned behaviors that we use to cop, and we just used those things instead of addressing the root causes.

I lost that weight very soon after getting home, because my very physically active life returned to normal, but 18 years later in 2012, being in something of a similar situation, I managed to put on about 40 pounds whe I once again left a very physically active lifestyle to spend time somewhere else mostly alone (I was a 30 year old man who had to live in a dorm room…).

I put on, then lost 10 more pounds in the interviewing years, and my gluttony is the reason why I still have 30-40 more pounds to lose, and my gluttony comes from my depression (and I’d take gluttony habit based self destructive behavior over chemical ones any day…), which comes from a deep sense of isolation, and a sense of not being valued, respected, or understood for who I am, and I bring all of this up because so many of us in this scene have struggled with our fetish, and have felt isolated by it.

(And that isolation really can cause depression, and as detailed just half a run-on sentence ago, depression can lead to all kinds of self destructive maladaptive behaviors, like gluttony and addiction.)

Part of that isolation is the simple logistics of being one of about 100,000 people give or take (based on site traffic from multiple sources etc.) into this one kink, but the other part of that is the shame of being abnormal. Being into a kink, especially one that the mainstream media hasn’t popularized, explained for us, or brought to the fore (bondage, feet, etc.), is historically weird, different, and stigmatizing, and that says nothing about individual social environments and expectations, so all of that together can and does cause a lot of shame.

For all the good that a little bit of shame can do (shame says don’t be a fucking asshole…), when we turn it on ourselves for the wrong reasons, it’s toxic, and it’s isolating. Isolation isn’t the only cause of dependency, but if we needed to sum up one giant root cause, it’s unhappiness.

Unhappiness isn’t the opposite of being spoiled, or having everything you ever wanted, it’s more of an existential discontent.

We’re not entitled to be happy, we’re not “supposed” to be happy, but the happiness of having an emotionally stable and manageable life is not the same as getting everything we want. And now we’re finally at what it means for something to be unmanageable, and how community factors into everything here.

Having an unmanageable part of your life means you have something that gets in the way of your overall well-being. Poverty is a societal phenomenon that makes lives unmanageable, so is sexism, racism, and bigotry etc. and all of these can and do lead to maladaptive behaviors and patterns of addiction, but we’re talking about the personal and the internal elements of our lives, because those are easier to address in this conversation.

Addiction is paired with behavior, and behavior is something we have control over, because it is our behavior, so how we choose to approach our well-being, how we compensate, or don’t, and what we use to just get by (which doesn’t have to be dependency etc.), is actually in our control.

When we face our shame, and our isolation, when we address the symptoms of our problems, when we feel entitled to something we don’t have, or see a clear and justified lack of something we should have, when we crave something that we think will complete us in the abstract, or will make us feel better either by making us forget/escape from/ignore our problems, or spike us up with something that feels so good we assume that’s what this “happiness” we’ve heard so much about actually is, and we do all of that with something that either doesn’t help us with our root causes, or that we don’t pair with other behaviors that do, or that simply makes things worse because everything has a price, then we’re compensating, and not coping, and we’re creating dependency.

Wow, I haven’t said “HYPNOSIS” in a while…

So here’s how it ties in to us.

We don’t talk to each other in this scene. We talk to our various Dommes, but we don’t talk to each other. We keep our shame inside, we keep our isolation inside, and when we engage, when we have a release and address our fetish, it’s when we are indulging in it, and that makes our Dommes our drug-friends (and our internet girlfriends… or at least brain-fuck buddies…), so we put too much emotional weight on them, and since we crave this, since it’s tied in to sex, we do this compulsively, and because we need that sense of community, even if it is only with one person, and even if it’s all an illusion.

What we gain from our Dommes (or project on them), other than their service, is a sense of being understood and of belonging. When we find a Domme, it really is like finding a drug friend. We have rituals we do together, one sided or not, and we have a connection we share, real or not, over this thing that we’re doing, in real time, or not, and to quote this girl I had a crush on in 8th grade, who years later I overheard talking to her boyfriend on a city bus, “why does it feel better when someone else pushes the needle in?”

To answer her question, it’s because that means you know you’re not alone.

(Look, seriously, if I wasn’t such a goodie goodie dork when I was a kid, and thank god I was, my life would have taken some very different turns based on who I knew at the edges of my life, who some of my less nerdy friends were, and where and when I grew up. Having been an adolescent in Seattle in the mid and late 90s, all my favorite musicians killed themselves fast, or slow, and like all of us, not everyone we knew then made it to today…)

You know that you’re not crazy of someone else likes what you like, and makes something that you want. It validates you to have a product to buy, and marketing to address your needs, and images to play off the same archetypes that may have informed these desires, and you can get an emotional (and physical) high from all of this. But when you come down, if you don’t have it all in the right context, instead of having fun, you feel the touch of happiness fade, and then everything, all that shame, all that doubt and isolation can come rushing in.

If that happens, what we usually do next tends to have a lot of behavior patterns that match addiction and dependence cycles. We binge and purge, we quit and relapse, we go on benders, and we start to habituate ourselves to these patterns without addressing their root causes, or finding ways to manage this fetish in a healthy way.

The thing is, this fetish isn’t bad for you. Your relationship to it might suck, but let me say from experience, yes, there are healthy ways to enjoy all of this, but that kind of healthy relationship comes from finding a way to understand more than the root cause of “where did my fetish come from”, and explore and make connections to what it does for us and to us when we indulge in it on an honest and searching emotional level.

And yes, part of this comes from understanding the reality of what our (fun fact, I’m writing this at a café and a patron here is very high and is freaking all the way the fuck out… ) fetish is, what its limitations are in practice, and what its limitations are for us emotionally. This means understanding that someone saying “you’re addicted to me” won’t program your subconscious and/or change your brain chemistry when you climax “at her command” as she drives the addiction deeper into your pussy brain as she word fucks you with her dominance, because that’s not how suggestions work, but the euphoria of the experience can create something that makes you feel “better”, not “good” but “better”, and so you start chasing it again.

In his autobiography, Slash (guitar player for Guns and Roses) talks about the first time he tried Heroine. He shot up with a girl (might have smoked it?), and they listened to Rock in A Hard Place by Aerosmith (yes, I bought that album after reading that chapter), and Slash said his mind was blown by Bitches Brew, and that every time he used after that, he was searching for that feeling.

With us, it’s a little bit different, because so much of what so many of us want to experience is not really real, because we learn about it from fiction. So, while I am sure some people are trying to chase a hypno-high that’s better than their first time, a lot of us are chasing something that we’ve never felt, that we wonder if we’ll find in the next file, or live call, and then we turn it into a ritual, both in the searching, the buying, and in the listening (saying nothing of the jerking off), or we try and find a new drug friend in our next new Domme, and the cycle starts over.

This doesn’t make you an addict, and there probably are fewer addicts in this scene than maybe there “should” be based on everything else, but addiction or not, these cycles are still self destructive, and there’s no magic bullet for fixing them either. But, there is a universal first step.

It’s not admitting you have a problem, it’s not admitting you’re powerless, or anything like that. The first step we can all take when we stare down our self destructive instincts is this:

We can choose to be kind to ourselves. We can choose to be as empathic and understanding of ourselves that we would be for the people we love, and in being kind, we can start to be fair, and I’ll tell you this, once you’re kind and fair, then your shame gets a little lighter, and it gets a little easier to open up.

And you’d think that would be the right note to end things on, but it; not.

Don’t just talk to your/the Dommes, talk to other fans, other subs, whetever. Open up, make friends, make connections, because chances are you’re not going to be doing/listening to hypnosis with them, so they won’t just be your drug friends.

1 Comments

  1. phoenix spirit

    I am 32 years sober this month, so I understand the addiction piece, I’ve discovered that I can find all kinds of other ways of running away from myself. Porn addiction and Femdom hypnosis can go hand in hand very well. One day I remember the rat park study where the researchers found that the best way to escape and avoid addiction was to learn to be emotionally mature, improve your social skills and get involved in life, chase your dreams and goals. Obviously I am leaving out a lot of details, there is work involved.

    I felt like you were writing about me at times, would love to talk with you in a more private setting.
    phoenix

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