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Subspace (also sub space, headspace, flying, or floating) is a specific state of mind that a submissive may enter, particularly after intense activities and/or (depending on the person) intense pain play, characterized by euphoria, bliss, a strong feeling of well-being, or even a state similar to intoxication. Thought to be related to the release of endorphins in the brain. The euphoria associated with subspace may last for hours or sometimes even days after the activity ceases.

Subspace is a metaphor for the state the bottom’s mind and body is in during a deeply involved play scene. Many types of BDSM play invoke strong physical responses. The psychological aspect of BDSM also causes many bottoms to mentally separate themselves from their environment as they process the experience. Deep subspace is often characterized as a state of deep recession and incoherence. Deep subspace may also cause a danger in newer bottoms who are unfamiliar with the experience, and require the dominant to keep a careful watch to ensure the bottom isn’t placing him or her self in danger. Many bottoms require aftercare while returning from subspace.

Subspace is a form of trance. Trance in its essence is a state of being, different from your “normal” state of being. During trance your mind excludes most of its input and concentrates on just one or only very few impulses, completely disregarding all others. Trance is the result of hormonal activity. Hormones are substances in your body, responsible for communication between the brain and the cortex and the rest of the body. For subspace a group of hormones, called “peptides” is important. Peptides are amino acids. Many look like morphine and have attributes, that can be compared to morphine. For subspace endorphins – a group of such peptides – are an important ingredient.

Science is still a long way away from fully understanding subspace. However, we do know more than enough to be able to do away with many of the misconceptions and misunderstandings. During the scene, the intense experiences of both pain and pleasure trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, which causes a release of epinephrine from the suprarenal glands, as well as a dump of endorphins and enkephalins. These natural chemicals, part of the fight or flight response produce the same effect as a morphine-like drug, increasing the pain tolerance of the submissive as the scene becomes more intense. Producing a sort of trance-like state due to the increase of hormones and chemicals, the submissive starts to feel out-of-body, detached from reality, and as the high comes down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, a deep exhaustion, as well as incoherence. Many submissives once reaching a height of subspace will lose all sensation of pain, as any stimulus causes the period to prolong.

Both subspace and sexual arousal start with adrenaline. Adrenaline production started well before you consciously figured out you were getting aroused. Your body can produce increased adrenaline levels for about half an hour. Nothing wrong with that. An adrenaline high as such can be great fun, but it’s got nothing to do with subspace. It is an adrenaline kick. Adrenaline is the first step. The next one brings us to a different, much larger group of hormones – endorphins. Endorphins are peptides too. You can read more about endorphns in our article Endorphins – The BDSM Point Of View. Within the endorphins group there are some hormones we call “enkephalins”. These do to cortex what endorphins do to the brain to create subspace and both need to be present. One important thing to understand subspace is the recent discovery of different ways, in which the brain releases endorphins. Besides the normal “through the proper channels” way (via glands and the nervous system) there also appear to be small, apparently uncontrolled fountain like releases on the outside of the brain. These have been photographed and filmed. Why they do, science does not know yet. But we do know these fountains are connected to the kind of emotional and physical responses, we call “subspace” in terms of BDSM.

There is a big difference between the physiological (especially biochemical) reactions in the male and female body. As a result, male subspace is incomparable to female subspace. Most importantly, female subspace usually lasts a lot longer. The explanation for this is in the fact that the male ejaculation (which is not necessarily always the same as an orgasm) puts an end to quite a lot of biochemical processes and – as a result – to subspace. On top of this, female sexuality in general is very different from male sexuality. And there is of course a major difference in the way, men and women deal with emotions.

Subspace is an altered state of consciousness, one that varies from person to person but in which one’s awareness is altered dramatically. Some submissives become immersed in sensations, to the point that they become unaware of anything else (their environment, their identity, time); others shut off entirely, entering a trance state in which they are no longer conscious of their actions, experiences or surroundings. In any case, it is clear that subspace can be considered a sort of dissociated state.

Subspace is a dissociative reaction that is more a response to intense stimulation, and is at least partly related to biochemical changes (endorphin release, for example) triggered by the physical and emotional stimulation during a scene. One typically feels some physical after-effects that usually are not regarded as unpleasant, and an emotional effect that is generally neutral to pleasant. In addition, the person is very aware, in general, of how they got there and that something major happened, though they may not be able to recall details and generally don’t remember much of what occurred while they were in subspace.

Someone “in subspace” is easy to recognize from the outside. They are no longer able to drive a car, or even a bike. They seem silent, absentminded, slow responding, uninterested. In other words “not really here”. That again is not the same as the warm, glowy, dreamy feeling after an orgasm. Having an orgasm while in subspace is biologically next to impossible. This is because the hormonal chain of events – leading to subspace – is quite different from the one – leading to an orgasm. Orgasm and subspace are two different, biochemically largely incompatible experiences. One excludes the other.

Subspace is a pleasurable place in which submissive focused on his/her own reactions and own good feelings. In subspace sub not considering his/her Dominant at all, but is putting all energy into the altered state of pleasure. It is undoubtedly a fabulous place to be. Subspace is more a product of the physical and less a psychological. Subspace allows acceptance physical and emotional freedom. Subspace produces physical and emotional joy. Subspace is a reward that Dominant gives to submissive on occasion.

Highly valued and often seen as the pinnacle of the BDSM experience, subspace can be readily attained by most experienced “players,” even those who do not know one another very well. Its purpose is to provide a pleasurable experience for the submissive. It is, indeed, that, but at best, subspace is a temporary condition; its long-lasting effects are mostly reflective. The most intense portions of subspace last only as long as the scene.

Subspace is dangerous in some ways. People “in subspace” do not recognize the life threatening situation. Someone “in subspace” is intoxicated. Intoxicated as in: under influence of drugs. Someone in subspace can be a danger to him or herself. Subspace can last for anything from several hours to several days. For the duration of subspace reflexes slow down severely (this is the result of the slightly intoxicating effects of enkephalins on the cortex) and much of normal, everyday logic no longer works. Someone in subspace cannot make responsible, consensual decisions.

Sub drop happens when the sub comes out of subspace. As the conscious mind comes back to its normal state the body and brain are experiencing the remnants of the adrenaline and the depletion of the endorphins etc. Sub drop presents its self through various symptoms: shaking, confusion, headaches, tearfulness, disorientation, lack of coherent thought and/or speech. Some symptoms are similar to depression but, unlike depression, which lasts 2 weeks or more, sub drop can be gone in less than an hour. Some of the brain chemical functions contradict each other and this contradiction is the most probable cause of the feeling of confusion felt during subdrop. The simplest way to deal with a sub in subdrop is to hold them close, tenderly and reassuringly. Allow them time-out before embarking on play again. Even a cup of tea will help.



2 Responses to Subspace

1 of 11
  • Juan Kamacho says:

    Hi.

    My wife is submissive and likes BDSM games. She would like to experience a subspace.
    As I am new to the BDSM practices i do not know much about subspace.
    How could i learn about how to take my wife to subspace, and how to take care of her during and after such experience?
    Is there any site on the Internet that explains how to take a partner to subspace safely?

    Thanks
    Juan

1 of 11

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