Sensory deprivation. Two words that always make me go weak at the knees. Read this, and yours will too.
At a basic level, sensory deprivation is simply the removal of one or all of the human senses. In a sexual context, this can range from the simple blindfold during sex, through to total deprivation with the use of sometimes fantastical purpose-crafted head gear and bondage furniture. The range of items available to buy that cater for sensory dep is massive, with many fetish shops carrying whole walls of hoods, blindfolds and gags. Some of the best for all budgets will be mentioned throughout the text.
Sense dep can be used as the sole activity in a session, but it more often applied in a supporting modifier role to a scene. It can be used independently to good effect within TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationships and at any time when a dominant really wishes to assert their control over a submissive. The removal of sight, or speech, without any further interaction can be a very humbling situation, where the simple removal of rights is clearly separated from any sexual context. “You are gagged not to mask your screams of pain and pleasure, you are gagged simply because I say so.”
This blog is going to focus predominantly on sensory deprivation as a supporting role, going in depth into different methods and techniques you can employ to really take your play to a whole new level. A whole new psychological dimension can be brought into your sessions, the mind is the biggest sex toy of them all and sensory play sets it off like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s go!
NIGHT NIGHT: Six different ways to deprive your sub of their sight
For the vast majority of us, sight is the one thing that really guides everything, and it is the one thing we notice most in its absence. A walk in the middle of a forest with barely any sound is a relaxing experience. A walk in the middle of a forest in near pitch darkness is anything but. We rely on our eyes, and when our sight is taken away, weird things happen. In a scene, it’s all about making those weird things GOOD.
Let us begin with the basics, a blindfold. Blindfolds can take many forms, all with the sole purpose of removing sight. Some cost a lot of money, some cost nothing at all.. here’s a run down of what you could use, and how to use it:
Clothing isn’t just for wearing…
Your wardrobe and chest-of-drawers, and the clothes on your body, are your emergency kink-aid kit. Perhaps you’re at a friends who doesn’t have a play box, perhaps you’re having an outdoors liaison that hotted up a bit more than expected, or maybe you just haven’t started your toy collection yet… whatever the reason, you haven’t got a blindfold to hand. No worry.
When using fabrics as blindfolds you should be mindful of the fact that they are not completely solid materials. Particularly in the case of scarves or towels you may find the fabric fairly easy to see through. Be sure to FOLD up the garment lengthways, do not roll it as this provides an uncomfortable shape to place against the face, and is less effective. With a t-shirt, simply lay it flat, and fold up from the bottom of the body, until in line with the top and bottom of the sleeves, then fold the whole lot once more. The flat fabric will sit comfortably across the eyes, and moulds over the contours to take out most light. Pull it tight and tie it off, and there you have a functional blindfold.
Football socks are pretty much made for kink; They are the perfect width and length to tie round, with a good amount of elasticity to ensure comfort, yet enough tightness to take out the light.
Duct tape, gaffer tape and other wide stripped rolls do a great job for blindfolds, and are often used in preference to purpose-made items. Check out my video for a guide on how to make a proper duct-tape blindfold. Just remember to de-sticky the tape significantly before applying, unless you want to give your subby an eyebrow waxing!
You can avoid the whole sticky situation, and potential allergies etc, with the use of vinyl bondage tape. Rather than being adhesive, bondage tape is cohesive, clinging very effectively to itself. It is considerably more expensive than buying duct tape, but as a bonus for the careful, you can re-use it. Bondage tape also has the added property of being delightfully stretchy without snapping. This means you can pull the tape tight and really make sure it’s on right. However! Never do this in the case of a blindfold, pulling anything too tightly across the eyes is a surefire way to guarantee impending headaches and significantly shorter scenes. You can buy bondage tape from many places, such as the lovely folks at Uberkinky for less than a fiver!
Airline masks aren’t just for sleeping…
A very cheap and comfortable alternative to purpose-made blindfolds. However, due to their design they are unlikely to provide total coverage and light is likely to seep in. They are good for scenes where this is not an issue though. Pick them up on eBay for naff all!
Blindfolds: Dedicated sight deprivers.
Okay, so the bulk of a scarf over the face isn’t cutting it, and you’ve had enough of ripping up bits of tape and sticking them to your jeans… it’s time to get something for the job. Blindfolds range from the cheap and crap, through to luxurious and to be honest.. sometimes also crap. Design is crucial, material is not. Many premium blindfolds are designed in such a way that while they feel amazing, and look great too.. there are still gaps and that’s just not what you want!
If you’re not hugely fussed about aesthetics and whether it seals out all light, check out eBay.. type in blindfold fetish, and you will be met with millions of results from millions of sellers. Fetish is a big industry on eBay, take advantage of it. Remember the properties of the materials they are made from. Latex blindfolds can be good, they stretch.. rigid PVC and plastic sheet ones? Awful. They will sit on your nose, digging in, letting in light from all sides. Remember that cheap leather items are often not real leather, so don’t let the idea of a leather blindfold sway you to buying something made from cheap crap plasticky imitation that doesn’t fit right. Blindfolds with padding are a better bet.
For a few quid more, you can look into cheap but effective blindfolds, such as this leather padded blindfold from UberKinky for £15.99. With a reasonable amount of padding and elasticity, it will black out most people’s vision.
The more padding available, the more likely that the contours of the face will not let light in.. something like this deep padded blindfold from Fettered Pleasures for £29.50 will really seal the light off.
Hoods: Cover the eyes and a whole lot more.
I will write a whole blog post about these wonderful creations in the future, but hoods are an awesome extra level of deprivation. Always be aware of the thickness of the material a hood is made from. A standard lycra hood with no eyes will still allow a fair amount of vision, with the wearer able to work out shapes and shadows pretty easily. Thin cheap rubber hoods will also allow light through as they stretch, though not to the same extent. The same applies for cheap hoods from eBay with thin imitation leather… light often comes in through seams and other parts of the hood that are not sealed off to the eyes due to the lack of facial contouring. (Seeing through the mouth holes for example). A number of hoods are at the foot of this blog for your perusal!
As suggested by @Hungry_Joe on Twitter, the Mindfold is a brilliant bit of kit, and one that takes a pride of place in my toy box. It is of a simple rigid plastic construction, BUT crucially with a perfectly designed rim of foam padding. It fits extremely comfortably, and removes all light without fail. With its adjustable velcro elastic strap, you can put it on a sub very tightly and it causes little to no discomfort. I really can’t get over how spot on for the job this is. Due to how the foam compresses and protects the face, you can even apply a muzzle over the top of it with no problem! Perfect! You can buy the MindFold from Fetish Lifestyle for £12 plus P+P. Go for it!
Unique methods: Surprise your sub with alternative options…
Do you have a GP-5 Gasmask? The classic Russian one with the circular eye holes? Ever wish you could easily put a blindfold over it? Well now you can with some awesome eye covers from BlackStyle. They’re not cheap, but they are PERFECT.
And finally, the ultimate in blindfolding… scleral no vision contact lenses. Unfortunately the link I had to buying these has since died, and I’m struggling to find a new one, but yes that’s right.. contact lenses that sit on your eye and remove all vision whatsoever. Awesome. If you fancy hunting out a pair, google terms such as ‘occlusion’ ‘no vision sclera’ and ‘blackout’. Be careful of all the halloween ones, these simply black out the whites of the eyes, whilst still providing vision!
One thing to decide for yourself when buying is whether you want a scene where the sub can still make out shapes, or if you want pitch blackness. The sensation of reduced vision has its own set of effects, and can excite as you can see something happening, but you’re not entirely sure what. However, if you want to play mindgames, it has to be a black out!
“Got my blindfold sorted, now what?!”
Now let’s play! The perfect accompaniment to sensory deprivation is sensory overload. “What?” – hear me out. If we’re just playing with one sense taken away, in this case sight, it can be really exciting to overload the others.. namely TOUCH.
WHAT WAS THAT?: The mindfuck world of sensory overload
The skin is amazing, the nerves and receptors in your skin can register even the most microscopic of touches. We can use this to our advantage. Let’s have your sub tied to naked to a chair, arms bound behind back, legs to the chair legs. Simple, effective.. ACCESSIBLE. There are limitless things you can do in this situation, but here’s a few suggestions to build up the sensations:
Your breath is an awesome tool. With a simple change of how your exhale, you can switch between a blast of cold air and that of hot air. If your sub still can hear you, the sound of the breath is also wonderfully erotic. Just as in foreplay in bed, right now kisses, heavy breathing and quiet words can really start things going. Lick your sub and breathe cold air over the damp patch to create a surprisingly cool sensation. If your aim is to calm them down into a long sensory play session, the key here is randomness and a slow pace. Pick parts of the body they aren’t expecting and take your time. Regulate your movement to their breathing, and get into a super slow gentle rhythm. Rhythm is everything in sensory play, if you tune your movements to theirs, the effect is compounded. More on this later. Of course, if you want it to be a passionate heated onslaught, then just fucking go for it!
Get yourself a Wartenberg Pinwheel, they’re brill. The awesome Bondatrix do a whole range of deviously pointy little instruments, and they’re very well priced. Applying very little pressure, run the wheel over the body, taking note of where gets a reaction and what sort. Using just a wheel and careful timing of application you can work your sub into a gasping frenzy. As above, rhythm is everything.. find the best places and run from place to place as they writhe in pleasure. Perfect.
Fire and ice, always nice.
Ice Cubes.. never underestimate them. They have the power to create absolute torture and absolute pleasure. Play with them, be devious with them.. remember that the melted water can provide a whole new set of sensations with the use of your cold breath. Aaaand on the hot side of things is candle wax. I would always advise that the first time you play with candle wax, it is done with them being able to see.. just simply because it’s a whole lot more fun! The eyes of terror just won’t be the same if you’ve already done it to them previously and they were fine with it. Either way, wax is great as a sensory overloader, as it really is such a heavy sensation. Unless you’re playing with a serious masochist who has experienced plenty of hot wax play before, always stick to white wax and from a decent height. Dark waxes, especially black, retain a SIGNIFICANTLY higher temperature on impact and can easily scald the skin severely. White wax will usually leave some cute little marks, but these will fade pretty quickly. Always start high up, and gauge their reactions. Use your voice and use timing to build their reactions into a rhythm and they’ll soon get lost in the moans.
Tickle like a total fucker.
Feathers, certain fabrics, fingers.. they all have the power to tickle. And tickle. And tickle. And tickle. I’ll leave you to decide how much of an absolute bastard you feel like being there. Add to the fear of not being able to see by really spacing out your tickle attacks, teasing them with false alarms and other sensations. Flinch. Flinch. Flinch. STOP FLINCHING BOY. Just be evil!
Now, let’s add the next dimension to deprivation. It’s time to drop the sub into a silent, or not so silent world.
I CAN’T HEAR YOU: Depriving your sub the ability to hear a thing.
Sound is one of those things that can really just pass you by as you go about your day, but when you get a peaceful moment, you really notice it. Sensory deprivation of hearing falls into two main categories: Relaxation and Confusion.
Relaxing with silence
Now, taking out hearing and replacing it with absolutely nothing is relaxing. It’s also very VERY hard to achieve. If you live anywhere with a fair amount of ambient noise, at least some of it will likely seep through even the best ear defenders. This is because your skull is an aerial, and while sound is not being funnelled through your ears, it is being picked up in the reverberations of your body. In addition to this, if you make a noise, you can hear it yourself. Being left alone with your thoughts is a nice sensation, and if you can’t see anything and you’re all bound up, you can hum a little tune to yourself and everything is pleasant. This method is really good for calming a sub down, or just giving them some bondagey downtime.
Confusing with overload
However, I’m a major fan of the alternative. Confusion. The best way of doing this is deprivation through overload, and the best way of doing THAT is with the use of WHITE NOISE.
White noise is a very weird thing, possessing interesting properties that we can use to our advantage. Our ears naturally listen out for patterns and familiarity in keeping with our general desire to know what is going on. Things that we see make the sounds we expect, we enjoy music with pleasing melodies, and many other things. With white noise, all this goes in the bin.
White noise (aka static) is defined by the complete omission of pattern, it is fuzz. If you listen to it, you cannot make out anything. However, if you REALLY listen to it, your brain starts to make its own ideas up. When you can’t see a thing, and all you can hear is static, this concept goes into overload.
With nothing to see to gain bearing on, and nothing for your ears to latch onto, your mind starts to wander. The two main mechanisms by which you gauge passing of time and your own position are out of action. The effects vary from person to person. A former sub of mine experienced massive extension of time, believing that a number of hours had passed when in fact it was only 60 minutes. My boy had a session recently and found that time was three times shorter in his head than in actuality. Having had nearly an hour pass by in what he thought was fifteen minutes.
You can get free and paid apps on iTunes and the Google Play Store that play out White Noise, such as White Noise Lite for iOS (Cheers to @puploki for the recommendation) which will produce the sound for you!
It is VERY VERY important to ensure that you do not deafen the sub, prolonged very loud noise can have severe implications for ongoing hearing. The best way to set a level is to talk to a sub as you turn the volume up. Ask them to nod if they can still hear you. Speak at a level you, and any other external noise, is unlikely to exceed. Keep turning it up until they stop nodding. Add a tiny bit more volume and then do not go any further.
If you have the tools to do so, you can really play with their heads by introducing extra dimensions to the noise, as this video I have created especially for this blog demonstrates:
Introducing false points of reference that change over time can really really confuse a submissive, and particularly the use of panning can really instil almost hallucinogenic effects. The combination of this and the use of poppers, for example, is really exhilarating. You can introduce elements of the bizarre, fading in well known musical pieces, speaking into a microphone, and other totally unexpected sounds.
A word of warning however, this can be distressing. You can be really delving very deeply into their brain at this point, vulnerabilities, insecurities and paranoias can raise to the surface, and there is a good chance, especially with a sub you are less familiar with, that a freak out can occur. The main ingredient for this to work successfully is trust. This is especially the case if you are introducing heavy bondage and inescapability into the mix. The more they trust, the more they are comfortable getting totally lost at your control.
SHUSH: Getting your sub to shut the fuck up.
Inclusion of gags into play isn’t strictly SENSORY deprivation, but it IS deprivation. Gags often provide a very very significant sensation of submission and control. When in a long sensory deprivation scene, be aware that it will likely be the gag that provides the weak link in terms of a sub’s longevity in bondage. Stick to use of an over mouth gag, such as tape, rather than gags that insert, which will produce cramp over time. An alternative is use of a muzzle, which will do the job beautifully too.
Gags are useful in the above scenes, as they further reduce the sound the sub is able to make, and therefore stands a better chance of not even being able to hear themselves.. which is always a very very weird sensation.
DON’T LOOK, DON’T TOUCH: Blind, deaf, silent and immobile. Intense.
Now, the above scenarios took for granted the inclusion of at least some element of bondage. However, there are ways to implement bondage in such a way that the sense of touch is effectively removed also, for basically ULTIMATE sensory deprivation. The key aim here is for a sub to feel like they are detached from everything, yet unable to move. Heavy bondage can be used to effectively incapacitate a submissive, but they are often able to still use their hands. Their ability to touch themselves in any way, and feel the cool of the air on their fingers can offer a grounding influence. No good! Use of vinyl tape or clingfilm to wrap hands into useless balls is a good way to ensure nothing is touched. Taping these in place to the body then serves as a total lack of motion in the hands.
To avoid sensations related to you moving around the sub, wearing of hoods and full rubber suits, or even just full clothing, prevents the little gusts of air. Of course you may want to use breathing etc as sensory stimulus.. but if you want to seal off touch rather than overload it, then you need to go all out!
Vibrations can also be an issue when trying to make them feel totally detached. Placing the chair they are on onto a board on top of a sheet of sponge, thick bedding, or even a thick carpet, can be enough to dampen any vibrations from you moving around.
It’s a lot of work, but if you’re keen to seriously deprive those senses, you have to go a long way. Just remember that this state can induce some odd effects in subs, and it’s incredibly important that you keep tabs on them throughout. When lost in your thoughts it can be easy to not notice something going amiss, and so it is vital that the dominant is very close by throughout.
The end of the scene, especially those that are heavier than most, can be a very startling prospect for a submissive. Bring them back down to Earth slowly, carefully and patiently. They will be very very bewildered, especially in longer scenes. Treat them carefully, and be sure to give them a hug!
From the simple blindfold through to totally sealing up a sub in a world you completely control, sensory deprivation is awesome.. just remember the following:
DOs and DON’Ts: Important guidance on sensory deprivation safety
– Do take it gently to start with, especially with new subs. These scenes require trust.
– Do realise that the heavier scenes can become pretty boring for the dominant if you are keen to remove all stimulus. Talk with fetish friends on Skype, FetLife, or offer the scene as a cam show for people to watch. The conversation will keep you horny, and proud of your handiwork, without having to touch your sub.
– Do mix it up a bit, the less expected the play, the more fun the reaction!
– Don’t tie a blindfold too tight, the headaches come quick, the headaches come hard, and the end of the scene won’t be far off.
– Don’t play sounds into the sub’s ears too loud. Damage WILL occur.
– Don’t play with coloured wax unless you know what you’re doing, and you know the sub can handle it.
– Don’t take a blindfold off without warning! Tell them to close their eyes, and remove it. Then cover their eyes loosely with your hands as they open them. Light HURTS.
– Don’t end the scene suddenly, turn the sound down, talk gently, untie gently, and care for them as they return to reality.
– DON’T EVER LEAVE THEM ALONE.
Sensory deprivation is an amazing addition to any session, and I hope this blog has given you some horny new ideas. Happy mindfucking.