Taken In Hand - the view of a psychiatrist

As a psychiatrist I can state that mental health professionals do not share one set of beliefs concerning Taken In Hand Relationships.

To some professionals and many others, Taken In Hand relationships can be thought of as providing a unique method of eroticisizing conflict—turning displeasure to pleasure. Frequently couples in conflict physically withdraw from each other, which is often more painful to both than any spanking.

Taken in Hand provides a man with the opportunity to turn towards his wife with honor during conflict, because he has immediate evidence of the respect shown him by his wife's trust in allowing him to spank her. Spanking serves as an immediate outlet for his anger and the subsequent lovemaking is the catalyst that transforms the bad feelings to good.

Relinquishing power frees a woman from her fear that her husband will abandon her or lose interest. Repeated conflict poisons relationships. When anger is not channeled into something more positive, such as passionate love, homeostasis can only be maintained by dissociating from the anger or by ceasing to care. And when positive emotional engagement has gone, the marriage is effectively over, even if not legally over.

Her relinquishing control invites correction, control, and chivalry from a respectful man. And her respect for him as a man, in her act of submission to him, virtually guarantees his continued erotic interest in her. The termination of conflict in the act of lovemaking is the glue that binds Taken In Hand couples together.

There are many ways of cementing relationships; none necessarily better than others. Mutual love, shown by Taken in Hand couples, is the best proof of the efficacy of this philosophy of intimate relationships, regardless of the arguments of those who do not understand it.

M.D.

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Comments

Counter argument?

What is the counter argument to this in the professional world?
Is it discussed at any length?
And what is the most common belief about these kind of relationships and how and why they function.
Sorry for all the questions, I am just fascinated.
I realize this is not a type of relationship for everyone but if it has made a couple closer and happier for an extended period, surely that is taken in to consideration isn't it?

Lo

erotic interest

"And her respect for him as a man, in her act of submission to him, virtually guarantees his continued erotic interest in her."

I would like to know if the men at this site agree with this comment. I will agree that most men do not appreciate a woman arguing against them, yet does submission truly promise continued erotic interest...that's a really powerful statement. Do men really think like this?

erotic interest

I am a man, and I think the statement in the above posting is fundamentally correct. At least it is true for me, and I believe it is true for many other men as well. However, don't miss the subtleties in the statement. The submission described here is an indication of genuine and abiding respect. We are talking about the submission of a woman who is discriminating in her standards and secure in her own identity, not a woman with a burning need to submit for its own sake. Also note the emphasis on continued erotic interest. I suppose it is possible for respect and submission to spark erotic interest, but it seems to me that it has a more natural role in sustaining it.

Re: erotic interest

A Taken In Hand reader wrote:

The submission described here is an indication of genuine and abiding respect.

I agree. I was not talking just about a woman allowing her man to spank her but about something much deeper. That she allows her man to spank her is merely one manifestation of her abiding respect and trust.

Erotic interest

As a man, I've found the quote "And her respect for him as a man, in her act of submission to him, virtually guarantees his continued erotic interest in her." to be so true it surprises me sometimes. My wife and I have been together for over 30 years, and in the last 8 years or so have increasingly applied TakenInHand principles. The respect, love, committment and passion we enjoy has never been better. As has been said in many ways on this site, it can draw out the very best in masculinity and femininity.

does compliance truly promise continued erotic interest?

For me, a display of willing compliance is a powerful connector. The eroticism is in the mind rather than in the body. One day last week my wife was doing the washing—she uses the twin-tub machine as a mechanised hand-washing bowl—and I fancied a walk into the town. I usually use our pedal tricycle (a common form of transport where we live) and my wife rides it often but walks very little. I asked her if she would walk with me into the town, and she immediately said "yes" without any conflicting body language, though it would mean interrupting her washing schedule. I had rather expected some questions along the line of "why walk?" but I was very gratified to find that didn't happen! She simply dried her hands and made herself ready. I found that very connecting. Yes, submission does promise continued erotic interest. A compliant wife is a great blessing. It also forces the husband to think carefully before issuing suggestions or instructions, but that's another story.

Against the standard view (was Counter argument?)

A child who is sexually violated and/or beaten, especially if she is being told that these hateful acts are expressions of love or correction (and particularly if she is genetically predisposed to intense physiological and emotional reaction to stress) may neurologically and psychologically pair nurturing feelings with rape and violence. Even in those who have not been violently abused, failing to respect the autonomy of the child by either abandoning her emotionally or physically or encroaching on her personal privacy space, or both, may have the same effect.

But some experts then draw conclusions which do not necessarily follow. For example, some draw the conclusion that, having been subjected to abuse as a child, an adult woman then seeks an abuser with whom to reenact her childhood experience of juxtaposed love and hate. But—so the story goes—the woman is now trying to master her experience by seeking another abusive man who, instead of just violently objectifying her and abandoning her, as she experienced as a child, will also love and care for her and treat her as important.

Some mental health professionals (not those who are sympathetic to Taken In Hand) say that the wires in such a woman's brain get crossed because of childhood abuse. Pain/control and love become entangled in her mind and these juxtaposed experiences are delivered to her by the dominant man. But instead of the subsequent abandonment that she felt as a child by her parents or from a cruel world that did not respect her unique needs, she now seeks a chivalrous man who will both abuse her AND remain emotionally engaged with her. So finally she has safety, and at least a kind of sexual fulfillment, despite her disturbed mind that is now in need of medication and psychotherapy to sort out its pathologies.

As I said, “so the story goes”. Certain professionals scoff at Taken in Hand relationships because they have a theoretical model of the mind that assumes that our wants and desires should be rational and fully consistent with a prevailing orthodoxy that extols reasoning, seemingly even in the bedroom, over the various types of passion that often bind real people together in happy relationships. And many Taken In Hand participants were never abused or abandoned as children, but still prefer this type of relationship.

The fact of the matter is that all of us are making do with brains and minds that are filled with idiosychratic ideas, confabulations, and downright irrational ideas. Indeed from the well-spring of these contradictions we make sense of the world as best we can and we write the dramas that enrich our lives and give us some measure of peace, security and sexual fulfillment. This is as true whether one has been abused or not. We certainly have no objective standard that defines a healthy relationship.

I ultimately agree with the Taken in Hand reader who says,

If it has made a couple closer and happier for an extended period, surely that is taken in to considerations isn't it?

Why yes, it certainly should be.

Women with their wires crossed

M.D. wrote:

Some mental health professionals (not those who are sympathetic to Taken In Hand) say that the wires in such a woman's brain get crossed because of childhood abuse. Pain/control and love become entangled in her mind and these juxtaposed experiences are delivered to her by the dominant man.

As the editor of this site, I am sympathetic to Taken In Hand, but I think it very likely that some women who have suffered physical or sexual abuse in their childhoods have indeed got their wires crossed, as M.D. put it, and that it still does not follow that Taken In Hand is a bad idea for those women. Such women may have to be extra careful to avoid ending up with an abuser, and they may well need some outside help as they create their Taken In Hand relationship, but I thoroughly disagree with the view that says either that Taken In Hand is yet more abuse (if it is, then it is not a Taken In Hand relationship but an abusive one!) or that previously-abused women must avoid relationships having any whiff of power/spanking dynamics.

Most readers of this site, as far as I can tell, have not been abused and are not remotely unstable. One of the things women often say when they email me is that they really like the fact that this site is for “normal”, down-to-earth people. But since the discussion on this thread is about the view mental health professionals have of Taken In Hand, in this post I want to make a point not about the general readership of this site but about a small proportion of readers—about women who, perhaps because of physiological vulnerability and exposure to abuse in childhood, are very reactive and have many problems.

My view is that for these very unfortunate women, Taken In Hand can be a positively therapeutic thing. Even much of the standard literature on borderline personality disorder (see, for example, Marsha Linehan's work) admits that individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to do well if they are in a stable relationship, and badly if they are not.

[For the full article from which I took the above, click here.—Editor]

I was glad to see your commen

I was glad to see your comment. I've taken enough university psychology courses and done enough self-diagnoses to realize that I am a product of my environment. I believe most of who I am came from what I was, and what my life was like as a child.

I feel that a Taken In Hand relationship is best for me, in part, because I can feel a stable and protected feeling that I didn't always feel as a child. I want to have someone take care of me now, to make sure I'm okay, to allow me to mess up, but still hold me accountable in a safe and loving way. I also feel this is the healthiest thing for me.

I can be strong when I need to. I can take care of myself. But I personally wouldn't want to be in a relationship where we didn't take care of each other. For me, being Taken In Hand is a big part of being cared for in a relationship.

Like the Editor, i'm a psycho

Like the Editor, i'm a psychologist...and i disagree with him/her. i definitely would not recommend a Taken in Hand relationship for borderline personality disordered patients, and Marsha Linehan certainly would not, either!

Taken In Hand and PTSD

I am in a stable, loving relationship. My husband and I have been together for 16 years and people mistake us for newlyweds. We rely heavily on each other. I told him a year ago or so about the concept of the Taken In Hand philosophy. I firmly believe being taken in hand and living a DD lifestyle is what I need to get me to the next level in my recovery. Just the thought of him doing this for me makes me wonder how great our already stable marriage would be if I never had to worry again about feeling helpless, hopeless, and useless—which I do, most of the time, no matter how many times I have been told otherwise.

In the last 4 or 5 years I have had two therapists, a psychiatrist, attended AA and NA, and have tried assorted pharmaceudicals. After all of that, I have gotten better in a lot of ways, but there are some things I just can't seem to get past. All those things I did as a child to survive are now very detrimental. My amygdala keeps me very busy by constantly watching out for danger, 24/7/364 and it gets worse as I get older (I'm 45). If there's a drug or treatment that can fix that, I and my doctors haven't found it.

It's a never-ending quest and ever since I first learned about Taken In Hand relationships, I knew it was what I needed. If it doesn't work, I won't be any worse off, and if it does work I have much to gain.

I think like that, too

I think MD was specifically talking about a woman's submitting to spanking as guaranteeing her man's continued erotic interest. Well, I think that's true as far as it goes, but I think it's something much broader than spanking, and something more than "continued" interest, too. Of course, there are some women I could never be interested in sexually, but if I meet someone who makes me think she'd like to be led by me, then I'm very likely to be interested in her, and to get more interested the more that seems to be true. Alpha guys are easy!

I want to make a point about arguing, too, an obvious one but worth making. I love to argue with women about all sorts of stuff, argue in the sense of passionate, heated discussion and disagreement, about books, ideas, whatever—that is absolutely not a turn-off for me, and in fact I need a woman who can give me that kind of stimulation. Does that mean I'm after an alpha female?

The kind of argument that's rubbish and very unsexy is the kind that's about everyday activities, or a relationship itself.

Good..

My father and brother are psychiatrists and my sister is a psychologist, but I wouldn't dare discuss my submissiveness with them, although I'm sure they have an inkling about it.

I would have assumed most psychiatrists' views were pretty against that kind of relationship, although there are "kink aware" therapists around. I have never had any abuse and it annoys me that people make an assumption that I'm submissive because of something in my past. Some submissive women have been abused but by no means all.

So pleased with your post above. Thanks.

Personally I don't really submit to spanking to solve conflict. It's erotic and I prefer to distinguish it from real punishment. The giving up of so much control to the dominant man even without spanking is what a lot of people think is psychologically unhealthy of course (in most UK/US culture, although certainly not around the world or historically where it's often been the norm).

The most equable peaceful relationship I have had was D/S/takeninhand. I don't think we argued once, although we didn't live together and until you're picking up someone's sweat socks you can't really compare to any other real relationship.

Is giving up control unhealthy?

Hera wrote:

The giving up of so much control to the dominant man even without spanking is what a lot of people think is psychologically unhealthy of course

The problem is that giving up control is indeed unhealthy for many women, and it is because many in unequal relationships would much rather be in a thoroughly equal relationship, that we see statistics suggesting that the best relationships are those that are the most egalitarian. No doubt for most people, it is very important to create an egalitarian relationship without any whiff of power dynamics. We probably all know people in very unhappy relationships with a controlling partner and much resentment. Giving up control is not necessarily wonderful. It depends for a start on whether you want to do that, and on many other factors. And women in many places in the world have no choice but to be in horribly unequal relationships whether they like it or not, and that is indeed terribly harmful.

But Taken In Hand folk actively want a so-called “unequal” relationship (in a sense, there is nothing unequal about it, in that it is totally consensual and the wholehearted wish of the alleged underdog). And for those individuals, giving up control can be both healthy and delightful.

Yes, there are risks. Yes, you have to be very careful to choose a man who is good, kind, and nice, not a self-serving narcissist abuser. Yes, you and your spouse are bound to make mistakes, some of which may be harmful to you and/or to your relationship. But for those drawn to the idea of a Taken In Hand relationship, there is not always another option. And I'd be willing to bet that if you took a bunch of Taken In Hand folk and gave them therapy to help them learn how to have the “equal” relationship alleged to be the best kind of relationship, if they actually managed to cut out the power/control/discipline dynamics and each do 50% of the household chores and so on, most of them would be less happy than they are in their Taken In Hand relationship.

The romance of conflict

Carl wrote:

I love to argue with women about all sorts of stuff, argue in the sense of passionate, heated discussion and disagreement, about books, ideas, whatever...

I love passionate arguments and debates, too; and I'm often disappointed that more people don't enjoy them, or they get their ego so involved that they can't have fun with it. In particular, many so-called "dominant" men seem to be put off by a woman who can beat them in a friendly debate. Apparently they feel it's a challenge to their manhood or something, which is absurd. The intellect is neither masculine nor feminine.

But if a man does feel it's a challenge to his dominance on the part of his romantic partner, then I would hope he would have the grace and self-confidence to take it in good humor, and maybe turn the tables on her with a little creative manhandling—instead of stomping off and sulking like a kicked puppy. (Could anything possibly be less "dominant" than that?)

I would get a kick out of it if a dominant man were to respond to my winning the argument by challenging me to an arm-wrestling match, or other aggressive physical activity where his demonstrations of superior male strength and prowess would be assured. If he felt I had "taken him down a notch" or something, then he could easily turn the tables on me and reassert his dominance in a way that would be fun and sexy for both of us. But no, most of the men I've met who think they're "dominant" just go slinking off to lick their wounds after a good debate.

Anyway, to bring it marginally back on topic: I wonder what the views of professional psychologists or psychiatrists would be regarding those women who are not inclined to compliantly "submit" without conflict, but who need to be actively *conquered* by a dominant man? (Not all the time, but at least sometimes.) Somehow, I suspect they would have issues with that; but then I think modern psychology is way off-track anyway, so I'm not really too worried what they would think about it.

In his/her initial post MD se

In his/her initial post MD seems to explain the benefits of a Taken in Hand relationship in terms of resolution of conflict and the demonstration of trust and investment in the relationship the complimentary roles produce.

Speaking entirely personally, I view my desire for this kind of a relationship as an expression of my sexuality. I don't have a great deal of serious conflict in my present relationship. We're both mature people and have both been in relationships before. We had not only a good degree of self-knowledge when we met, but a good idea also of the kind of partner who would suit us. We took care at the outset to establish that we had similar values and a similar outlook. In fact we're very compatible. This relationship would work well as an equal relationship. We get on well in many areas and are well motivated to resolve conflict and also able to do so effectively.

I don't view a M/f dynamic as eroticising conflict so much, as eroticising the mundane and everyday. Both my partner and I are high sensation seekers. This doesn't just operate in the field of sex—it extends to continually finding things in the environment that fascinate us. The psychological interplay of the D/s dynamic is yet another area of fascination.

Why I'm sexually submissive I don't know. I have examined my history and tried to trace its development however like other women on this site, as soon as I became sexually aware, I became aware that I was excited by concepts of female submission and male dominance. Along with certain other writers on this site, I suspect there may in part be a biological component judging by my response to a larger and more powerful male.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are more used to working with people with problems rather than people who are happy in their relationships. Perhaps the male dominated relationships they see are in the main the abusive ones and not the ones where both parties are happy with a relationship style they have freely chosen. Why would such couples seek therapy?

Certainly there are stories on this site of how adopting a Taken in Hand dynamic has improved people’s marriages, but I just wanted to point out that this might not be the sole or even the primary reason for choosing such a dynamic. Some people like myself choose it because it expresses their sexuality and adds more excitement to everyday life. Others select it because it fits with their belief system of what is ‘natural’. There are myriad reasons why people might choose this lifestyle. It’s easy to get bogged down in looking for the problematic causes of sexual submission (or dominance for that matter) whilst ignoring the wealth of testimony to how satisfying and exciting it is!

Good point, Lauren

There are many reasons why individuals may enjoy a Taken In Hand relationship. Eroticizing everyday life is certainly one of them. Thanks for pointing that out.

Abuse + Female Economic Independence

Many women into BDSM have been abused. It's very common and very sad. I never was and have always been submissive but certainly a category exist who were and many many women whether submissive or not move from one abusive relationship to another. I am not sure I would advise a woman like that positively to seek out Taken In Hand relationships and a dominant male partner because she might not have the life skills and resilence to protect herself and also to choose the right kind of dominant and controlling man but I have no experience of working with women like this. it's a hard issue. If you weren't born submissive but were taught to associate sexual pleasure and pleasure in general with abuse, control and domination from a parent or other abuser do you unlearn that for your own good or do you accept your personality now is as it is and seek out good and kind caring dominant men who meet your needs and will you ever have the skills to sort out the wheat from the chaff and end up with the good men? Anyway that's not really my issue as I wasn't ever abused.

Very important issues for women about giving up power and control. That is the part of this I've always needed and wanted. I can take or leave spanking. it's the life control which matters and that is actually in practice much much more dangerous than what someone might do to you with a crop. If they are inside your mind, making you comply in a sense the border between what you consent to and what they make you accept is not at all clear. It's huge fun and I love it but I do think I need the protections of my own common sense and most of all economic independence and a career (which to be honest I've never met a dominant man who had a problem with that)...and being divorced after nearly 20 years it gives you a slightly different view than those hugely in love giving up all hope of future economic independence for a man who could drop you in 4 years time when you have 3 children under 4 and no means of earning a living because he's escaped to Northern Cyprus..on the other hand dependence etc is very erotic but I think for me the hardest of limits for the good of me and my children.

Hera wrote:"If they are i

Hera wrote:

If they are inside your mind, making you comply in a sense the border between what you consent to and what they make you accept is not at all clear.

I think this is why there should be constant feedback between the parties. You can't assume that what you intend for your partner is how your partner actually experiences it. Your partner has to be listened to, to understand how THEY experienced it and this has to be taken seriously.

It's also why, for women who are not already in a long term relationship with a good knowledge of their partner, they need to choose a partner very carefully, as has been stated repeatedly on this site. A woman must be assured that her man has her best interests at heart. The process of coming to trust someone entirely can be quite a long one. I take on board your concerns, Hera, that some women who have suffered abuse as children might have difficulty distinguishing between a benevolent dominant man and one who is likely to override their boundaries and disregard their wellbeing. I think all women entering into a new relationship of this kind, whether formerly abused or not, should treat themselves as precious and apply those standards to their ongoing assessment of the man they're with.

I appreciate that it can be hard to distinguish who is trustworthy and who is not when an abuse dynamic is what feels 'familiar' from childhood, as it might be difficult to distinguish whether a boundary has been crossed when someone had boundaries frequently crossed as a child. This is why I believe a good self knowledge is desirable when entering into a Taken In Hand or D/s dynamic. However nobody's self knowledge is ever entirely perfect so we all have to take the best care of ourselves that we can. In fact I believe we have a responsibility to do so.

Consent

Yes, Lauren, the protection is in trying to choose a man who is caring and protective and also wise.

I said "If they are inside your mind, making you comply in a sense the border between what you consent to and what they make you accept is not at all clear." That always interests me as an issue because I am not sure I really do consent. I know I have a legal right to leave someone at any point in the UK. I know i can withdraw a consent immediately to anything, sex a spanking or whatever but isn't it a bit like when you're with an abusive partner and cannot get away even though there are refuges and physical means of escape psychologically you can stay tied to that person for years unable to break free? In those cases yes you have a free consent to leave but you cannot exercise it because of the psychological position you have got yourself into? So in my case seeking a dominant man I am in a sense looking for someone whose control I would want so much I would seek to give him a power over me which could similarly make it hard for me to leave. I hope that is not a good analogy and that the better analogy is happily married couples who work through problems and don't easily leave each other because of ties/family etc rather than because of the mind control of one over the other.

If you're suggestive, submissive, dependent, malleable in the hands of someone clever, manipulative and with experience of control techniques as well as being naturally dominant, there may be very little he is unable to make you do and more importantly very little he cannot make you want to do. That's good; it's fun; it's risky, edge play in a sense, much more than the risk someone might hit you too hard. Dominant control over submissive mind is what I've always sought since I was about 12. I've never been hurt by it so I suppose the skills you need are those everyone ought to have in picking a safe partner, someone perhaps with more to lose than you, able to form stable long term relationships, without problems, addictions etc all the usual wise things to look out for.

I agree with Lauren's last point too and I hope I would always have enough residual common sense that I wouldn't do anything unwise that would jeopardise my personal safety, that of my children or my finances.

"Mind control" is a fantasy

Hera wrote:

If they are inside your mind, making you comply in a sense the border between what you consent to and what they make you accept is not at all clear.

What, are we back to the hypnotic mind control thing again? Sorry, but I just do not believe that it is possible for someone to be "inside your mind" in this way. If it were possible that someone actually cannot distinguish the boundary between their own mind and that of another, if they feel their mind is under the control of an external agent, and that they can't be sure any of their choices are of their own free will, then that would sound like a serious mental health issue.

But I doubt that's usually the case, with most people who claim to be under someone else's "mental control." Rather, I believe this is a fantasy that they happen to find very pleasurable, so they like to pretend that it's true. Maybe in a few cases it goes beyond fantasy, and they are actually under the illusion (or delusion) that their mind is under the control of someone else. That sounds psychologically dangerous to me, although I'm certainly not a professional. Our society functions on the default assumption that our minds are our own, and we are not subject to mental invasion by external forces controlling us. If that sort of thing did actually happen, then it would require a HUGE overhaul of our legal system and also our mental health system, in order to deal with it. But it does not happen. At most, someone might have a delusion that it's happening, which is scary enough; and I would hope they would seek help for that.

That always interests me as an issue because I am not sure I really do consent.

I would suggest that if you cannot even be sure of your own consent, then this sort of relationship might not be good for you. Taken In Hand is based on the consent of both partners, and both partners need to be aware that they are consenting.

isn't it a bit like when you're with an abusive partner and cannot get away even though there are refuges and physical means of escape psychologically you can stay tied to that person for years unable to break free? In those cases yes you have a free consent to leave but you cannot exercise it because of the psychological position you have got yourself into?

No, I don't think it's like that at all. Because physical constraints and coercion are REAL, and this fantasy of "mind control" is an ILLUSION. People who cannot distinguish their illusions from reality do not belong in a Taken In Hand relationship, in my opinion. Maybe they don't belong in any relationship at all, until they can get clear on the distinction between fantasy and reality.

In saying that "mind control" is an illusion, I'm not denying that the effects of hypnosis can be real. Only that hypnosis is not a matter of someone else being "inside your mind," and forcing you to do things you might otherwise choose not to. Hypnosis can influence someone's behavior, but the idea that people can be "controlled" that way for any length of time is a fantasy. I'm also not saying that there cannot be cases where some unfortunate people actually are so psychologically traumatized in some way that they effectively lose their autonomy and free will. But when that happens, it should be regarded as an illness to be treated and cured; not an ongoing state of mind that one should be happy to live with.

So in my case seeking a dominant man I am in a sense looking for someone whose control I would want so much I would seek to give him a power over me which could similarly make it hard for me to leave.

If you're looking for a relationship where you have no real power to leave—whether through some real physical force or threat, or whether through some illusion of "mind control"—then it sounds to me like you are looking for a relationship that is ultimately nonconsensual. But my guess is that you realize that mind control is only an illusion, and you enjoy the fantasy of being in a nonconsensual relationship where you have no power to leave. That's a very different thing; like the difference between rape fantasies (and their enactment) versus rape reality (a truly unwanted rape).

I hope that is not a good analogy and that the better analogy is happily married couples who work through problems and don't easily leave each other because of ties/family etc rather than because of the mind control of one over the other.

Now I'm confused. It sounds like you find this fantasy of "mind control" very erotically appealing, and that you want a partner who can make you feel that it's real. (Even though, I would claim, it will never be; unless you succumb to some mental health problems.) But now you're saying that you hope it doesn't turn into something nonconsensual? Is this anything like the DD submissive women who worry and fret that their husbands are going to give them a frightfully painful spanking, when that's exactly what they're hoping will happen?

If you're suggestive, submissive, dependent, malleable in the hands of someone clever, manipulative and with experience of control techniques as well as being naturally dominant, there may be very little he is unable to make you do and more importantly very little he cannot make you want to do.

It sounds like a fine fantasy, if you both enjoy it. But if you start to confuse it with reality, then I'd suggest that you seek professional help. As I see it, the Taken In Hand lifestyle is not really aimed at women who are so "suggestive, submissive, dependent, and malleable" that they are likely to lose control of their own minds and imagine that the man is controlling them via his psychic brainwaves or whatever. This is a relationship style based on consent, and the ability to consent requires that your full mental faculties—especially including your own personal autonomy—remain fully intact.

That's good; it's fun; it's risky, edge play in a sense, much more than the risk someone might hit you too hard.

It's risky if you start to confuse your fantasies with reality, yes. But there is no actual danger from "mind control" because that's just what it is, a fantasy. So the risk of actual "mind control" happening is negligible; whereas the risk that a man could break your bones by hitting you too hard is much more dangerous, because it's real.

Dominant control over submissive mind is what I've always sought since I was about 12.

I will confess that I don't understand at all how that would be appealing or erotic or romantic. If it were possible, I would find it creepy. But it's not possible, so I suppose it can be a harmless fantasy. However, I get concerned when people imagine this fantasy is a reality. I get concerned both for them, because it sounds like maybe they should consult a psychologist; and I also get concerned for the rest of us, who are seeking truly consensual relationships. Because this ideology seems to blur the line between consensual and nonconsensual, and that could adversely effect us all.

For example, if a man is being prosecuted criminally for engaging in a consensual relationship, the court may not admit or consider as valid the testimony of his wife; especially if they feel her autonomy has been compromised and she has been mentally "controlled" in this way. I think it's to everyone's best interest to make it very clear that the people involved in Taken In Hand relationships are fully functioning adults, whose autonomy and free will are intact, and who are willingly *choosing* such relationships, not being mentally "controlled" and mentally "forced" into it.

Someone might object that the whole idea of "consensual nonconsent" also blurs the line between consent and nonconsent. But I would not agree with that, because the woman always retains her option to end the relationship. (In a Taken In Hand relationship.) Pretending that women don't really have that option because they're helpless victims is one of the more destructive politically correct ideologies running amok these days. In some abusive relationships, the poor woman may truly have lost all her options due to the very real threat of deadly violence. But more often that is not the case, because most men are not psychopathic killers, not even potentially. So I think they're is a lot of fantasy out there, regarding the victimization of women—both by women who hate that idea, and also by women who find it appealing in some odd way. (Like, the masochistic slaves of the Gorean lifestyle.) But Taken In Hand is not about the woman's victimization at all; it's about her finding happiness and having her deepest romantic desires fulfilled.

Mind control is a fantasy?

The kind of relationship Hera refers to briefly, where a woman finds herself unable to escape an abusive and controlling partner, may not be based solely upon the threat of violence.

Abusive men can use subtle methods of control, not just the threat of violence—for example progressive demoralisation of the woman so that she comes to believe she has few options outside the relationship. One such method would be knocking away her sources of external support, for example subtly telling her that her friends don't really care for her, inventing things they have said to indicate they don't like her, feeding her misinformation so that she feels she cannot trust her friends. Alternatively, himself being so unpleasant to her friends that they find it difficult to maintain the friendship. In this way a man might reduce external sources of information to a woman so that the view of her and their relationship he is feeding her becomes the dominant view for her.

If a couple have children, an abusive man might use the children to manipulate the woman. For example telling their five year old that mummy wants to split up the relationship and that is making him very unhappy, so that the woman becomes racked with guilt and questions whether she is doing the right thing, telling the woman that if she was any sort of good mother, she would not be trying to leave him and split up their family, telling her that she is positively harming the children by wanting to get away.

He may refer to her family as a means of control, telling her that her family will think less of her by the way she is behaving (trying to get away), that they will see that she has failed, that she can't manage anything in life. Any negative view that a parent may have had about the woman may be capitalised upon and emphasised by an abusive partner.

He might undermine her self belief in terms of getting a job and being able to support children on her own by a stream of comments such as "Who would employ you, look at you?", "What do you have to offer? Don't be ridiculous", "How do you think you're going to survive on your own with the children, you're crazy"

He may undermine her belief in her own perceptions and sanity by frequently telling her she's crazy, and asking how she can possibly be feeling what she's feeling.

An abusive man might make her believe that she will never get another relationship by frequently undermining her physical appearance, even blaming his own abusive attitude towards her on her being physically 'unattractive'—or alternatively saying he behaves the way he does towards her because of something she has done—or fails to do—that his abuse of her is all her fault.

Psychological control of a woman by a man in an abusive relationship exists and bears no resemblance to stage hypnotism or the mind control seen in science fiction.

People frequently question how a woman can become involved with such a man in the first place. Unfortunately not everyone will be equipped by their childhood experiences to make an immediate healthy choice of adult partner and of course, few men present themselves this way at the outset.

Complex

I introduced two issues. Sorry. One is women (and sometimes men) who can't leave abusive relationships. I don't agree we are all sitting here in life in the US/UK with "freedom". We do have legal rights to leave abusive partners, nice partners and partners who have taken us in hand but in reality people can feel tied. The abused and those co-dependent often really just "cannot" leave. Their mind or will doesn't let them. People might think them pathetic for not doing so but in a sense their feelings/mind etc is not entirely their own. I probably should not have introduced that issue on this thread. I don't think there is any difficulty in distinguishing abusive relationships from caring taken in hand ones, although I know a lot of people in the world think any woman who consents to physical punishment whether for erotic fun or other religious etc reasons must be mad. Obviously I don't.

On the differences in submissive women, I don't think I have mental health issues if I want to be controlled by a man.

When it is said it must be an erotic fantasy, aren't many couples together because of that state called love, which is just brain chemistry which brings upon them a kind of immediate madness almost and then they stay, bond, gel and hopefully form nice long term relationships. Isn't therefore the mind taken over by love/lust at the heart of virtually all Western romantic relationships anyway?

All I can do is describe what I have felt. My best DS relationships have been where I've felt controlled and dominated by a man. I know we're getting into the very heart of consensual BDSM here but I'm not sure it's any different from any classic seduction scenario where men weave their erotic and romantic power over women and snare them in (as indeed women do over men). In a sense all sexuality and romanticism surely involves an element of conning the other person, persuading them of your charms, controlling them, making them want you -isn't that mind control in a sense? I just don't think we walk around as people unaffected by others around us. In any long term relationship you get some dependency and some control and we aren't in a sense free agents all the time.

Sexual attraction to someone makes people do silly things. Look at all the married people who go off and have affairs In a sense their mind is affected by the chemical balance in the brain caused by the lust/love.

My main point was this—that I was unsure I do consent once I've taken that first decision to submit to someone; that someone skilled and dominant and whom I trust could make me do things I might otherwise not want to do. I know that is so. I have felt my mind is controlled. I hope I've got the sense then to leave or stop something which is damaging. People control others all the time. Good leaders do it in business. Parents use clever techniques to get the behaviour they want from their children. Dominant men do it.

I haven't had time to read all the post above. I may come back to this.

Illusions?

Hera,

No man could make me jeopardise my self, my child, or my safety. I would recognize immediately that I was dealing with a self serving narcissist and move on as he would be unworthy of my time. Women need to know their self worth. To Thy Own Self Be True.

However that doesn't mean that this is an illusion. It is a very real phenomenon and one that you have every right to consider as it could be detrimental to your happiness (maybe not in the begining) at some point in the relationship. This screams to me as a woman who is competent and aware and not someone suffering from mental health issues as someone above suggested. Some may consider religion or spirituality as being a fantasy but who are any of us to make the judgement call? I understand your thoughts completely and am happy that your shared.

P.S. on "Mind control is a fantasy"

I'd like to clarify some remarks in my earlier reply to Hera's post.

Hera wrote:

If they are inside your mind, making you comply in a sense the border between what you consent to and what they make you accept is not at all clear... That always interests me as an issue because I am not sure I really do consent.

I know I have a legal right to leave someone at any point in the UK. I know i can withdraw a consent immediately to anything, sex a spanking or whatever but isn't it a bit like when you're with an abusive partner and cannot get away even though there are refuges and physical means of escape psychologically you can stay tied to that person for years unable to break free? In those cases yes you have a free consent to leave but you cannot exercise it because of the psychological position you have got yourself into?

So in my case seeking a dominant man I am in a sense looking for someone whose control I would want so much I would seek to give him a power over me which could similarly make it hard for me to leave.

In my earlier reply I said: "If...someone actually cannot distinguish the boundary between their own mind and that of another, if they feel their mind is under the control of an external agent, and that they can't be sure any of their choices are of their own free will, then that would sound like a serious mental health issue. But I doubt that's usually the case, with most people who claim to be under someone else's 'mental control.' Rather, I think this is a fantasy that they happen to find very pleasurable, so they like to pretend that it's true."

Just to be clear here, I was not suggesting that you (Hera) are suffering from mental illness, nor that you should seek a therapist to cure you of your desires. My understanding is that you have a very vivid fantasy of being under a man's "mental domination" or "mind control"—but you don't currently believe that you're in such a relationship, you're just looking for that. So my suggestion was rather to realize that this is a fantasy, and perhaps a fantasy that would be fun to play at, with the right man. But if and when it ever gets to the point that you actually lose your autonomy and free will, because you feel he has invaded and "conquered" your mind, then that would be a very different thing, and much more serious.

As I said before, I'm guessing you do realize that "mind control" of that nature is an illusion, and not something that actually happens in reality. That is, if we're talking about mind control as a psychic or telepathic phenomenon. However, in another thread it sounded like you were talking not about some sort of psychic phenomenon, but rather a man dominating you mentally just by virtue of being smarter. There I said that I don't see how anyone can dominate another person just by being smarter; unless we're talking about some sort of manipulation, which I personally consider to be dishonest, disrespectful, and the very opposite of a loving relationship. But I guess if being manipulated is what personally floats your boat, then go for it.

The point I want to make here, however, is this: even in the case of a woman who succumbs to a very cunning, underhanded and manipulative man, I cannot agree that she did not (or does not still) have real consent and the real power of choice in that arrangement. As long as he is not using actual physical force (or the threat of severe bodily injury or death) to coerce her into staying in the relationship, then I would claim that she still has free will, in the vast majority of cases. In a very small minority of cases, perhaps, the woman's actual sense of autonomy has been truly damaged, and she is psychologically unable or unwilling to leave her abuser, even though she is physically able to. (Similar, perhaps, to the Stockholme syndrome, where kidnap victims end up being brainwashed by their captivity.) And in those few rare cases, then I do think it's a matter of mental illness, and it should be dealt with professionally.

But when it comes to women's nonconsensual fantasies about being under a man's total control and being unable to actually leave him—whether out of actual physical compulsion or psychological compulsion—I think in most cases the women who hold such fantasies are well aware that their enslavement or whatever is not literally true. It's just that it's much more pleasurable, in most cases, for them to pretend that it is real, and imagine that they are truly unable to escape. In that case, the woman is really in complete control of her mental faculties and her autonomy, and probably not in need of a therapist to deal with her erotic fantasies.

And that "mind control" thing would be just a harmless fantasy, if only it did not threaten to make things difficult for all the rest of us—those who prefer truly consensual relationships, and who are under almost constant legal threats because the courts and society at large has bought into this myth of women's victimization by evil mind-controlling dominant men, and who therefore have passed some mightily absurd laws against even consensual arrangements involving real male domination, because they simply cannot conceive that any woman would actually *want* and consent to a man's domination, unless he had somehow coerced her.

That is one reason why I am so opposed to this widespread conceptual normalizing of women's "victimhood." The other reason is just that I feel it's spiritually and psychologically unhealthy. Not that some women have fantasies of mind control—that's perfectly fine, provided they realize it as such. But if we as a society start coming to believe that the average person is not actually possessed of autonomy and free will—if we instead start seeing the societal norm as one of helpless victimization—then that has the potential to undermine and destroy civilization as we know it.

So I feel it's very important to keep reiterating that a psychologically healthy individual does indeed have free will and personal autonomy, in virtually all circumstances that life brings their way. (Short of being kidnapped, or living under an actual political dictatorship.) And if someone keeps insisting that she does NOT have personal autonomy and free will—even though she is not under any actual physical coercion keeping her in the situation of being under a dominant man's control—then I think that's the time to point out that her perception of reality is neither healthy nor normal, and that it's time for her to get some professional psychological help.

I should also add that I personally don't have any stigmas associated with seeking professional help. I have a family history of depression myself, so I've seen my share of therapists. (Who are mostly unhelpful, in my experience. Learning a good meditation technique was a much bigger help for my depression than any therapist ever was.) I also make a big distinction between just feeling sad, versus serious (clinical) depression, versus a depression so intense that it debilitates a person totally and robs them of their autonomy. There is no shame in someone seeking professional help when they need it. But in my estimation, it is indeed shameful if we as a society start portraying a feeling of helpless victimization as being normal or acceptable. That would be a terrible lowering of the functional standard for "normal."

(I'll add that I also don't regard "normal" as the best standard for the psychology profession to be aiming at. I have a lot more respect for psychological theories that ask the more difficult questions about our higher human potential, and how we might all learn to maximize that. Such as Abraham Maslow's theory of self-actualization, and various other schools of thought on how to become a happier and more complete human being. Settling for merely "normal" is a travesty. But any psychological theory that really starts to investigate the far reaches of human experience will inevitably bump into the realm of spirituality; and the profession seems determined to evade that at all costs. I believe that the psychological profession in general is deeply frightened by, and in denial of, the power of religion and spirituality, and the grip that can have on the human psyche. But the very fact of religion's compelling psychogical power and impact is what should motivate the psychological profession to look at it more closely, and to gain a deeper and broader understanding of religion as a *general* worldwide phenomenon. They cannot even begin to comprehend religion, or its pervasive influence on the human mind and emotions, if they are only familiar with one or two religions, and only at the most superficial level.)

Thanks DeeMarie!

Thanks a million, Dee Marie, for you illuminated commentary. You insights are rare!

Sacred Need

I appreciated this thread very much, would love to see more like it. It reminded me a bit of what I had read in this article, http://www.submissivewomenspeak.net/healthysub.htm

Personally I did grow up in a highly abusive home. And, related or not, I have been drawn to taken in hand type dynamics since childhood really. And though near the end of my training I decided not to pursue it professionally my backgrund is in counseling. The field felt so empty to me, and the glorification of independance and the demonization practically of dependence was one of the biggest reasons why. Probably didnt help that my academic circles were highly "progressive". I can't tell you how many times I heard assumptions taken as gospel truth such as that if you need someone you don't really love them. Every feminine bone in my body recoiled. Women are Adam's rib, need is at our very heart, receptivity and dependence at our core, and this is a sacred thing to nurture and to treasure not a "pathology" or "unevolvedness" to fix.

I can share that in my case one thing I have learned so far is this: my abusive background is indeed a huge factor in my draw to traditional relationships, but not in the ways most would asssume. I am drawn, as was also expressed here in some of the other posts of others, not to add to the abuse but to heal it. At the root of my abusive background was a lack of strong and protective male energy in my life, a lack of headship. My father was an alchoholic, often quite effeminate in his dynamics (as Patricia Allen explores, alchoholism tends to cause harmful reversals, making men more effeminate, women more emasculated), and he expected me to be the male energy and take care of him in too many ways to even count. Ways all very subtle and very very powerful. His dependence (and lack of providence and protection) was seen as fine--my dependence not allowed--the natural roles were reversed and left quite a wound and I have sought more natural traditional dynamics like a plant seeks sunlight truth be told, they are that healing to me.

The draw to "emotional intensity" is there in a sense too, though that doesnt quite express it right for me--I dont seek the dramatic but more a depth of bonding. Things need to feel deep, and very "real", for me... as the opposite is far too familar and wounding a road which I've seen the horrible fruit of firsthand. Lack of bonding, too much lightness, game playing (not just the obvious and manipulative kind but also the emotionally irresponsible new agely "life is game lighten up" sort of mentality), etc are the red flags for me (along with the red flag of natural gender being roles reversed or not taken seriously).

I've found in my life that I can handle almost anything from someone if the bond is deep and real, but can handle very little if there is detachment or superficialness or irresponsibilty there. So I can see the childhood connection there too, as I recieved the invasiveness of sexual abuse along with a dynamic of abandonment/irresponsibility/detachment right alongside and can see the rather large wound that horrible combination left. But there again, I think the draw to depth, male responsibility, and true bonding here, which is a huge part of some sorts of taken in hand type relationships, is not a pathology but my body and heart naturally seeking healing. What I grew up with was a mockery of how femininity should be treated--it was used but not nurtured, drained and at the same time taken lightly, treated irresponsibly and with "dont depend on me please, you shouldnt need to anyway" being the constant "song" in the background. The very opposite of how things are designed to be for "Adam's rib". So its no big surprise that an amplification of natural male and female energies in relationships like some taken in hand types are is a real draw. A healing draw I feel.

I don't see this all as only personal though but in some ways far broader-- I think a woman needing to know she can truly depend on her male partner is a very healthy need, and a good sign she is under headship.

I look forward to following this thread (or others like it) if it continues, it's the first one to strike a cord here in a very long time and it was a healing experience reading it : )

"Spanking serves as an immedi

"Spanking serves as an immediate outlet for his anger and the subsequent lovemaking is the catalyst that transforms the bad feelings to good.

Relinquishing power frees a woman from her fear that her husband will abandon her or lose interest. Repeated conflict poisons relationships. When anger is not channeled into something more positive, such as passionate love, homeostasis can only be maintained by dissociating from the anger or by ceasing to care. And when positive emotional engagement has gone, the marriage is effectively over, even if not legally over."

I have a question as someone who has never been in a Taken In Hand relationship but I am very interested. As a matter of fact, I don't think I'd want it any other way, but I still have doubts.

I see that the man's anger gets channeled through spanking his woman but what happens to the woman's anger, if she has any? Is it just automatically resolved thorugh the erotic nature of spanking and her submission, or is it dismissed? And then repressed? Kind of like on par with a sacrifice that strengthens the bond? Is there so much positive charge in a Taken in Hand relationship that she just naturally lets it all go and deeply defers to her man with a sense of peace?

I don't get how his anger is affirmed and healthfully expressed for the good of the relationship while completely ignoring the existence of hers and then somehow bliss ensues. Please, maybe someone with experience may wish to explain?

Thanks. Skye.

Channeling anger

Suppressing anger tended to be something I did quite a lot of in pre-Taken In Hand days, because most of the time I didn't feel I could talk to my husband if something had upset me, I was often scared that he would be angry if I expressed myself,and I tended to bottle things up and not talk about them, and often I would sulk for long periods if he had upset me in some way, without actually talking about whatever it was. And if we did have a real row and I shouted at him, I used to get a brief adrenalin rush from losing my temper, but I generally felt shaken and miserable afterwards, and it never really made me feel better.

Nowadays I am much better at expressing myself and tend to talk about things that have upset me, and the air tends to get cleared much quicker. If I am genuinely upset about something, i find that my husband will usually listen to me if I speak to him about whatever it is in a reasonably civil way, and if he thinks he is in the wrong he will apologise. If I am in bad mood because of something my husband has said or done, usually because he has told me off about something, he can usually overcome my bad mood quite easily. I find that if he doesn't allow my sulking to make him lose his temper, and responds firmly and decisively, my sullen mood just melts away. sometimes I find it mildly annoying that he can overcome my powers of resitance so easily, but mostly I find it very pleasurable. I think that my feelings are actually less suppressed now than they were before.

Louise

Channeling Anger

This was a problem for me also and remains to be true although it no longer is a problem.

When I get spanked I get angry! If it is not a hard spanking I still am angry because of the humiliation that I feel. A hard spanking hurts and pain brings out the warrior in me and I fight back. My man has to get me to that complete break down place. Sobbing and total submission. He has to take the fight all the way out of me. When he does this I do feel calm and peaceful and very submissive. The crying is a release of my frustrations over the sense of fairness and then I can get to my happy place.

I did not want a Taken In Hand relationship in the first plac-- he did—but now that I am in one we have discovered what works for us and this works. It makes me feel very submissive and that is an unusual feeling for a naturally dominate woman like me.

If you are wondering why I would do this to myself when I didn't want to in the first place the answer is because he and I are worth it. It was very important to him and while I admit to struggling with it I also admit to what it has given us and that is closeness, deep connection, tenderness, passion, and the intensity of heat that exists between us—It's hot!

From a Concerned Social Worker

As a licensed social worker it's my belief the material presented on this forum is irresponsible and should be removed. This material could suck women with Borderline Personality Disorder into intense abusive relationships that only compound their issues. I'd advise anybody that was abused as a kid or who's got a Diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder to stay away from this forum and the abusive lifestyle advocated. If this page was truly written by a psychiatrist shame on you.

Your post really struck me.

Your post really struck me. I have so many thoughts running through my head it is difficult to form a coherent reply, but I'm going to try. Please know that I respect your concerns about women in difficult situations such as these, and I mean my comments with all due respect to you, and to these women.

People with BPD and those who were abused as children will stumble into far more dangerous things than this website. Like all individuals they will have to learn to monitor what's good for them and what isn't.

I don't know much about BPD. I know it's pretty debilitating and results in pretty extreme behaviors from the women who live with it. I would think a woman with BPD who is at home reading on her computer in a far safer situation than one who is out looking for meth (I understand use of street drugs is a real issue among women with BPD).

As far as victims of childhood abuse, I know most people here aren't. I know some (a teeny tiny minority) are victims of childhood abuse. Abused women are women who should be reading about loving relationships. Abused women are women who should be reading about the importance of consent. All of that is here, on this site. You also see limits and definitions of abuse. I have heard women here talk about how they have benefited or felt cared for as a result of spanking. I've not once read "and when he blackend an eye and broke three of my ribs, I knew he really cared."

I think it's important to acknowledge the potential that Taken In Hand could result in a stable, loving relationship for these women with a man who is suited to meet their needs.

I understand that you think this information could be dangerous for some women. I'm not a psychologist, and I'm not going to pretend to know what is/isn't dangerous information. I worry though whenever someone advocates getting rid of something because it may not be right for a small group of people. That's how prohibition started. Should we remove gambling or alcohol from society because some people have problems with it? How about junkfood? I'm a compulsive over eater and Burger King is sounding pretty good right now. Because I shouldn't have junk food does that mean that no one should have it?

Dangerous assumption

I just want to stress that not everyone in the field of mental health agrees with the poster to whom CJ is responding.

Abusive lifestyles

It would only be abusive if you were forced into such a relationship against your will, or if things were being done to you that were making you really unhappy, but you felt obliged to put up with them.

This is not the case for the women on this site, most of whom crave this kind of relationship, and are happier for getting it (I am such a one myself). I don't really know what BPD is, but I imagine that, as CJ points out in her above comment, there are much worse things such women can get into than Taken In Hand.

Finding this site did me a lot of good, and it has done my relationship with my husband a lot of good. If you are sane, as I believe myself to be (though my husband has his doubts), then you are able to judge for yourself what you want to do with your life. If you are not sane, then maybe you shouldn't be on the Internet at all, since you are bound to come across some very strange things on here.

I am very sorry for women who have BPD, but honestly, if you're going to delete anything from the Internet that might possibly do harm to a mentally disturbed person, that's rather tough on the sane majority who are looking for some personal happiness and fulfilment, and who might possibly find it here.

Louise

The minority rules

CJ & Louise, I couldn't agree with you more! I don't know how things are in the UK, but here in the US, in many cases the minority rules. A small group will change the law to suit their needs/wants & who cares what effect it has on the majority!

I like the fast food example you gave, CJ. That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's a shame people think you must take things away from decent, law abiding citizens just because a small fraction of the population can't handle it. For example, here in the US, lawmakers are trying to ban certain firearms. This is to "protect" us. They aren't thinking about how it will affect hunters & sportsmen and women. If these guns are banned, it will only affect the law abiding citizens. The criminals will find a way to get them. We do have a black market. The same goes for these women with BPD. Should we ban the internet so they might not be exposed to something potentially harmful to them? This is just absurd.

I'm not a social worker, but I do have a college degree in this area. In no way do I feel this site would be harmful to a woman with BPD. In fact, I think it could show her the difference between an abusive relationship and a loving relationship. This site promotes loving, consenting relationships. Should anyone think differently, I say read on...

Dynomite

Re: Abusive Lifestyles

I am very sorry for women who have BPD, but honestly, if you're going to delete anything from the Internet that might possibly do harm to a mentally disturbed person, that's rather tough on the sane majority who are looking for some personal happiness and fulfilment, and who might possibly find it here.

Louise, your straightforward comments are very wise.

Reply to the concerned social worker

"Abusive lifestyle advocated"?

On this site? I'm sorry that you have a viscerally negative reaction to this site. But before judging so harshly, please read a bit more carefully, as I have not seen abuse advocated here by the owner of the site or others who are regular contributors. Please point to the posts that advocate abuse.

I have worked with those with borderline personality disorder for many years. The overwhelming majority of them want nothing to do with male-led relationships or spanking. Indeed, many have been abused so badly they are afraid even of the touch of men. For these individuals, discussing the advantages of a "Taken in Hand" relationship is simply not relevant. It's not what the patient wants, regardless of whether or not such a relationship is psychologically helpful to different people. Our immediate goal with such unfortunate individuals is to decrease and eliminate hospitalization, suicidal thinking, and parasuicidal gestures, for example wrist-slashing. And I certainly don't advocate that any of my patients establish new intimate relationships if they have acute, life-threatening mental illness.

But what does one do with a woman (or man) who is emotionally ready for intimacy, but who has a very intense desire to be led by a caring partner in a loving relationship? Should we advocate contemporary notions of an equal relationship when this has been boring to her in the past, has stifled sexual excitement, and has led to ennui, isolation, and divorce? No. This is simply not responsible therapy or psychiatric practice.

The goal of therapy is not to impose contemporary notions of sexual equality on others, but rather to enable patients to reach their full potential. One aspect of this occurs when a patient is honest about his deepest desires and finds safe ways of realizing them in his own life, to the extent that these activities are legal, ethical, and possible.

I think many women with borderline personality disorder are attracted to narcissistic, obsessive, and antisocial men. And this is certainly dangerous. But what on earth does this observation have to do with this site or its recommendations? Have you read the editor's overview of Taken In Hand?

Taken In Hand relationships enable many people to enjoy themselves. If that were all that it was, and no one were injured, that would be good enough. But it can be more.

Patients tell us that wrist slashing distracts them from the horrible emotional pain that they feel. But wrist slashing is physically dangerous and ultimately is not life-affirming. Therapists often recommend that those with borderline personality, instead of slashing their wrists when feeling isolated or alone, apply ice to their wrists, snap themselves with a rubber band, or break boards in karate.

As the owner of this site has explained, Taken in Hand relationships can in some cases transform the emotional pain that women with borderline personality disorder suffer, into something that is life-affirming. When the emotional pain is too great, a firm spanking not only is an immediate distraction much safer than wrist slashing, but the following love-making reestablishes an emotional connection with a loving partner. The loneliness, disconnectedness, and emptiness that often are at the root of the emotional pain that those with borderline personality disorder experience is transformed into glorious connection, pleasure, and sexual release.

I do understand the concerns of the social worker who (like me) has certainly seen abusive and horrible men take advantage of the authority given to them by women. (Those in egalitarian relationships can also abuse each other, as I have also seen in my practice.) But not everybody who seeks control in a relationship is an abusive horrible person. There are many caring and ethical men enjoying Taken in Hand relationships, as anyone who has read the site can see—and that matters. The idea of a Taken In Hand relationship should not be dismissed because of unsubstantiated fears.

To a Concerned Social Worker

Perhaps you haven't been directing enough attention to what is expected from the men in a Taken in Hand relationship. Men in a Taken in Hand relationship are to use the woman's trust only to improve the relationship for both of them. It is only a Taken in Hand relationship if it is not abusive, and if it is a loving, sexually-exclusive marriage that promotes the development of both spouses. Taken in Hand and abuse are mutually exclusive, and calling Taken in Hand abusive is simply not true.

Okay, so that's the theory. What about on a more practical level? Taken in Hand is a way for those of use attracted to the idea of control to fulfill our desires without abuse! The whole idea here is for both spouses to treat each other respectfully and, yes, lovingly. I really don't think you're going to convince anybody that control of the Taken In Hand type isn't a good idea, any more than you're going to convince people that sex, love, and relationships are messy and should just be avoided. If you're the type of person who is really suited to a Taken in Hand relationship, a "normal" relationship will be frustrating and unfulfilling.

-Nathan

My case as a BPD sufferer

First of all, I apologise if my English is far from perfect.

I am a BPD sufferer and my taken in hand relationship is the best thing that's ever happened to me. After being severely abused as a child, I went from one frustratingly "standard" relationship to the next, then onto BDSM, meeting a lot of men (and women) who would have me reenacting my traumas (my ever complex relationship with sex and pain), which was therapeutical somehow, but those relationships failed where it matters most: there was no deep bond, no real intimacy, which I could hold on to and feel safe and cared for afterwards. I always ended up feeling lonely and void, which is classical BPD curse and very dangerous as such.

Then I realised my focus had been wrong. I realised that I really need to be guided, but there was no need to "suffer" (not even consensually) every time I have sex. Sex could be a warm experience excluding all forms of pain and humiliation (but mild pain is allowed ;) ). I realised this "inner child" (not that I'm a child, of course: I'm a grown-up woman and I do my best to always keep up with my responsabilities) analysts talked to me about wanted a firm, but loving hand, a partner, but a partner that could discipline me where needed, help me when I go wrong and make me feel cherished and understood no matter what.

It's all very nice to tell us BPD sufferers how (in the end and to help us out of our traumas) we should be these freewheeling, über-strong women (and men) in scrupulously egalitarian relationships. Needless to say, I feel happy for those who accomplish this and would advocate egalitarianism where I can see it works. But I won't buy it as universal remedy anymore. My egalitarian relationships worsened all my symptoms and made me feel extremely inadequate. My BDSM relationships were severely flawed as well. These were options that just didn't, don't work for me.

My medication has gone down (and I'm off neuroleptics, for instance, which is amazing progress in my case) since I have this taken in hand relationship (3 to 4 years now). I feel able to work and do it efficiently. My moods have notably improved. And, most importantly, I BELIEVE in my own recovery. I am sure non-egalitarian relationships would hurt many BPD women and one should always be careful when first exploring but, for ME, this has been a revelation, a shelter and, probably, totally responsible for my newly earned health.