Jubal just had to raise the spectre of the nature vs nurture argument viz BDSM in his post. Now you should know Jubal and I have very different intellectual backgrounds and very different ideas about most things. Luckily it creates a healthy, fun argumentative situation and not a nasty type of thing.
In this particular case Jubal states very definitively that all BDSM is a learned thing. I’m assuming that by “all BDSM” Jubal intends to include M/s and D/s as well as the more playful types of BDSM that interest him more at the moment. Now I don’t fall, this time, on the complete opposite side of his argument. With just basic knowledge of information theory it seems unlikely that the number of bits required to produce the quantity of memes in a developed human brain could be found in the human genome pool. At the same time evolutionary psychology has a foothold in demonstrability in the identical twins raised apart studies, which show striking and sometimes unbelievable correlations between the developed behavioural patterns of people with shared genes and different development histories.
Of course neither IT or EP are really close to my own background and methodology for analysing a question, but in order to satisfy Jubal that I am paying some attention to Science and not all my attention to Philosophy I mention them, and what I feel they do bring to the argument.
So what does phenomenology have to say about the situation? Since here we are discussing psychology in a broad sense, without agreeing with the DSM-IV that these things are deviant in the sense of being a psychiatric issue, I will bring in the most phenomenological of the psychological schools, Daseinsanalysis.
Daseinsanalysis prescribes a phenomenological approach of paying attention to the things themselves, and not immediately subsuming the concrete phenomena under a already available set of abstractions, such as specific development theories (Freud) or specific meaning theories (Jung).
The phenomenon of personal domination, in my history, is one where it was something I simply did. It was only later that I realized how much I exerted control in my early relationships, without being overt or, really, honest about it, even with myself. Partly due to my ex’s being a dominatrix, but mostly due to mitda’s need for submission and the immediate way I responded to it, I became open to the idea of being dominant in a thoughtful, proactive sense. And this has continued since, as we’ve developed from playing at BDSM to entering a TPE triad, myself, mitda and emmie. So the practice of domination is something I have definitely learned, but it seems to have been learned from a strong pre-existing tendency.
This feeling I have seen talked about on the BDSM boards when the question comes up by dominants and submissives alike, who can trace their immediate responsiveness to BDSM situations, whether real or portrayed, as far back into their childhood as they can remember. And while I am sure there are people into BDSM that can trace their interest back to specific events, such as childhood abuse or trauma, when asked on the boards it doesn’t seem to have that strong a correlation for most of the participants.
I am asking mitda and emmie to put in their opinions as to how they experience and first experienced the submissive traits they have developed. How much came in the development and how much (if any) do you feel was a priori present? My own feeling about M/s, at least, as a subset of BDSM, is that it is learned, but learned out of strong pre-existing traits. That I happen to share my dominant traits with my mother (who I am similar to in many ways) shows a possibility of a genetic connection also, but since my parents raised me, it being developmentally acquired from her is not out of the question.