Erotic humiliation refers to consensual activity often performed in a dominant/submissive context where the dominant physically or psychologically humiliates the submissive for the purposes of sexual pleasure and/or arousal. Although humiliation typically occurs as part of BDSM play in a dominant/submissive relationship, submission and humiliation are not the same thing; humiliation is simply one form that submission can take between consenting partners.
Humiliation may occur in private, or in a public context. The humiliation may be sexual in nature, or not. As with many fetishes, non-sexual activities can become associated with arousal. Humiliation may occur for the pleasure of either the dominant, the submissive or both. For the submissive, humiliation can be a form of masochism; for the dominant, it is a form of sadism.
Research has shown humiliation to be a particularly intense emotion, and it has been posited that humiliation is a form of pain play in terms of how it impacts the brain. Some humiliation play (age play, for example) also includes strong forms of caregiving, which suggests that part of the purpose behind these activities is building trust in the relationship. Those who enjoy erotic humiliation also say the experience brings them into a more primal state, a state of subspace, one where inhibitions - and even one's sense of self - may be largely absent. Humiliation, therefore, is a more complete state of submission or surrender, and provides what some refer to as a form of oblivion.