Subspace (also sub space), in the context of a BDSM scene, is the psychological state of the submissive partner.
Subspace is a metaphor for the state the submissive's mind and body are in during a deeply involving play scene. Many types of BDSM play invoke strong physical responses such as extended adrenalin surges that can cause exhaustion. The mental aspect of BDSM also causes many submissives to separate themselves mentally from their environment as they process the experience. Deep subspace is often characterized as a state of deep recession and incoherence. Many submissives require aftercare.
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 stimuli causes the period to prolong.
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