Updated: FEBRUARY 4, 2019
Good pain is the pleasurable sensation felt during some painful experiences. Some of the experiences that elicit good pain include getting tattoos, getting pierced, running marathons, eating very spicy foods, and engaging in BDSM play.
Good pain is the opposite of bad pain, which can stem from real torture, cruelty, or chronic pain conditions.
More About Good Pain
Conventional wisdom tells us we seek out pleasure, because it is inherently good, and avoid pain, because it is negative. However, good pain challenges this notion. While the painful sensations are negative, they quickly fade when humans experience good pain. However, the endorphins, anandamide, and adrenaline released when the body experienced pain linger. These chemicals make us feel euphoric, much like we do after orgasm, listening to great music, falling in love, or taking opiates. The endorphins also reduce the pain we experience.
While scientists are unsure why we experience some pain as good pain and others as bad pain, some suggest we experience good pain when we understand we’re not in serious danger. They say we seek out and experience good pain when we know the pain won’t cause any serious or long-lasting damage. This phenomena is called benign masochism.
This explains why people interested in BDSM implement safe words. They understand that while a BDSM scene can bring good pain, that pain could potentially become bad pain if the body is constricted in a dangerous way or the moved into positions that could cause real harm. When the body alerts the submissive of the bad pain he or she is experiencing, which could come with real risk, the safe word expresses the potential danger to the dominant and the scene ends, because any real harm can be done.
Anecdotal evidence suggests good pain is very powerful and may even supersede bad pain. For example, people in chronic pain say their symptoms reduce or disappear entirely when they receive good pain. This impact can be substantial, lasting for several days as feelgood chemicals linger in the body.
What constitutes good pain varies from person to person. A light flogging may be all someone can handle before the pain starts feeling bad, while someone else may still feel good pain during edge play. That’s why it’s crucial for dominants and their submissives to negotiate their terms and understand each other’s hard limits.