By far, the most common element in deviant sexual attraction is towards things which are ‘taboo’, that is, things which are naughty, bad, or forbidden. Across all fetishes and even non-fetishistic sexual behaviour, we are turned on by taboos.
In this article, i’ll explain the psychology of why a taboo is a turn-on.
Fetishes and Sexual Pleasure
Why do fetishes form?
Fetishes form because we all have some sort of deep-rooted emotional pain in our subconscious mind. One of the ways that our brain tries to deal with that pain is by turning it into pleasure. We can find an immense amount of validation by either surrendering to the pain in a controlled environment and letting it hurt us, or by overcoming it by acting the pain onto others – what Robert Stoller calls ‘fantasy revenge’.
For example, someone who grows up feeling powerless will either get aroused by being powerless (tied up) or by being powerful (tying someone else up!). It’s the brain’s way of dealing with deep-rooted emotional pain. Someone with fears about pain and punishment will get aroused by either feeling pain or inflicting pain.
Cuckolding is where you get aroused by being made to feel inadequate – it eroticizes feelings of inadequacy, which is obviously incredibly painful. By surrendering to these feelings, in a sexual context, we try to overcome our deepest fears and concerns, which provides the greatest amount of validation and pleasure possible (but, obviously, this doesn’t create lasting healing, or we’d have fetishes once and never again!).
Naughtiness is Bad
Our childhood is when the majority of these emotional pains form, because it’s the time when we’re so vulnerable, weak, needy, scared, and impressionable. Anything that happens in childhood gets deeply internalized and magnified, more than we can imagine.
When growing up, we are all told which behaviors are ‘wrong’ or ‘naughty’. When we do naughty things, we are often punished, restricted, or told that we are bad. This creates an emotional pain and negative association with naughtiness, which we all grow up with as a normal consequence of childhood. Perhaps we are punished for naughtiness, or shouted at, or in some way hurt and told that naughtiness is bad and wrong.
The Pain Of Thinking We’re Naughty
This leaves us feeling very bad about the idea of being naughty. Children worry that if they’re naughty, their parents won’t love them any more. They think of naughtiness as the one thing they shouldn’t do. They feel a lot of pain around the idea of being naughty.
Then, in adulthood, emotional pain is sexualized, and we become aroused by naughtiness and attracted to things which are ‘taboo’. By either masochistically surrendering to naughtiness, or sadistically seeking fantasy revenge through naughtiness, we find pleasurable validation through taboo sexual acts in an attempt to overcome this pain.
We become aroused by things that are taboo – as an eroticization of the emotional pain around naughtiness.
Don’t Like This?
My focus on this website is on troublesome turn-ons: the fetishes you don’t want to have, and would rather change. If your fetish is only arousing because it’s taboo, there are two things you can do about it:
- Change your associations. Stop thinking of that fetish as taboo, and try to start seeing it as normal, fine, good, and not naughty at all. The naughtier it seems, the more arousing it will be, and the less naughty it seems, the less arousing. So, try to not see it as naughty!
- Get comfortable with naughtiness. Try to remove your emotional pain around being naughty. Learn that you’ll still be loved and accepted, you won’t die, you’ll be able to live a happy life, and no-one will reject you or abandon you. Sometimes this involves reclaiming your independence: building a healthy, fulfilling life that you’re proud of (particularly socially, in fact, mainly socially – get more friends). Other times this may involve some deeper work on changing your subconscious perceptions – digging up old memories and re-examining them, using creative imagery, and treating yourself better: self-love.
Most fetishes are much more complicated, and it’s rarely as unidimensional. Cuckolding, for example, involves a lot more than just a taboo. If this is what you’d like to change, sign up on my homepage.
By Connor McGonigal
‘Why Is A Taboo A Turn-On?’ Published January 2019