Science of Sadomasochism: Grant Proposal

So, you want to advance your scientific career. You want to investigate a subject that has not been investigated very deeply. You are not overly afraid of controversy. Read on ...

Most of the experimental and observational data that exists about sadomasochism, beyond informal experience and self-observation, seems to consist of survey results ("Have you ever done this or that?") and psychiatric case histories (which tend to slant the whole subject towards a medical "disease" model).

What's needed is some direct laboratory observation and experimentation, using the latest technologies. For example, brain mapping/functional imaging using MRI. But, I have been told that this can be a bit expensive, so the following can be used as a basis for a serious research proposal.

Grant Proposal: Brain Mapping Sadomasochism and Clothing Fetishes

Sadomasochism is a well-known aspect of human sexuality, but it has not been studied all that much in the laboratory. Many aspects of the phenomenon remain a mystery. But technology advances relentlessly, and the latest brain mapping techniques open up the possibility of making quick work of many of the problems relating to S&M.

If S&M is something that has evolved and serves a specific biological purpose, then there is almost certainly some part of the brain that is specifically active during sadomasochistic sex. Identifying this S&M "module" would be a very important step that would facilitate the testing of a number of specific hypotheses, including the following:

Hypothesis: that "shiny clothes" fetishes are a form of sadomasochism.
This seems very likely, because of the very close association that these fetishes have with sadomasochism. If the hypothesis is correct, then the S&M module will be active in the brains of fetishists observing their favourite fetishes. Identifying the S&M module and activity in it would allow a general solution to the classification problem, i.e. which of the so-called "paraphilias" are forms of S&M, and which of them are something else. (Paraphilia is a rather vague term that just means any sexual preference other than homosexuality which is considered to be "abnormal".)
Hypothesis: that the basic mechanism of sadomasochism is response suppression.
This could be confirmed by observing activity in the S&M module and correlating it in real-time with the non-occurrence of expected responses.
Hypothesis: that certain sexual problems, including anxiety-related impotence, are caused by insufficient sadomasochism.
This could be confirmed by observing unusually low activity in the S&M modules of men suffering this problem.
Hypothesis: that sadomasochism is normal, and those identified as sadomasochists are merely the tail end of a continuous distribution.
This could be confirmed by observing some activity in the S&M modules of even "normal" people, under sufficiently favourable circumstances, e.g. involving fetish clothing and "lite" S&M.
Hypothesis: that sadomasochism is a specifically human trait.
If a close analog of sadomasochism was to be found in other animals, one might expect them to contain an analogous S&M module to that found in humans.

Feel free to use the above as a basis for your grant proposal. Any credit that can be given to the writer of this web page would be appreciated. I cannot promise a Nobel prize, but you never know ...

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