Sensory Deprivation

Updated: SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
Reviewed by Kinkly Staff
on September 28, 2021

Sensory deprivation is a form of sensation play that is often incorporated into BDSM. It involves depriving a person, usually a submissive, of one or more of their senses, such as sight and hearing. This not only helps make them feel more helpless, but it also makes their other senses, like touch, more sensitive to stimuli. This can result in an intensely erotic experience.

Blindfolds, to remove the sense of sight, and earplugs, which remove the sense of hearing, are two of the most common props used during sensory deprivation. Once the dominant removes their submissive’s senses, they focus on enhancing any remaining senses. For example, a dominant who has removed their submissive’s senses of sight and hearing may tease and torture their submissive's body using props such as ice, feathers, Wartenberg wheels, floggers, hot wax, and sex toys. The submissive focuses on the sensations of these items on their body, as they are not distracted by what they see or hear. A submissive who still has their sense of hearing may focus on their dominant’s voice throughout sensory deprivation. A dominant may also light scented candles to arouse a submissive’s sense of smell. Food play can trigger a submissive’s sense of taste.

Sensory deprivation usually focuses on heightening the sense of touch by eliminating other senses. However, some dominants try to eliminate all of their partner's senses, including touch. As touch is so central to sexual experiences, removing it can make submissives appreciate their other senses more. They may also be more responsive to touch once it becomes a part of sexual play again. Submissives may be told they can’t touch the dominant or themselves. The dominant may hover achingly close to the submissive, tempting them, or masturbate in front of the watching submissive. Using bondage mitts and full-body sensory deprivation suits also help dominants remove touch during sensory deprivation.

More About Sensory Deprivation

Sensory deprivation builds on sensory play but takes it to a more extreme level. Like sensory play, sensory deprivation heightens available senses to make foreplay and sex more thrilling. However, during sensory deprivation, dominants don’t just manipulate the sensory experiences of their submissives, they also deny their submissives the right to use one or more senses. This makes sensory deprivation much more psychologically demanding than sensory play. The dominant has much more power, and conversely the submissive is much more vulnerable. That’s why it’s crucial for submissives to only engage in sensory deprivation with a dominant they trust.

While submissives need to trust their dominants, sensory deprivation is a good option for new submissives wanting to test their limits. That’s because sensory deprivation is less painful than many BDSM activities. It can be a good way for submissives and dominants to deepen their bonds without pushing the submissive outside their physical comfort zone. People experimenting with sensory deprivation should start slowly, depriving just one sense at first, before escalating the play over time. Applying a blindfold during play is a great first step in sensory deprivation.

Sensory deprivation can easily be part of dehumanization scenes as it restricts basic functions and the ability to interact. Trading the blindfold for a hood can be a more dehumanizing way to deprive a submissive of their sense of sight. Without any functioning senses, a submissive can seem less than human. This can be powerful and challenging, so dominants should only attempt this after discussing their submissive’s hard limits.

Many dominants also like to restrict their submissive’s power of speech during sensory deprivation. A range of gags can do this, but simply stuffing a pair of stockings or panties in a submissive’s mouth will also do the trick.

Sensory deprivation requires great care as removing the senses can be dangerous. For example, bondage ropes that prevent the submissive from touching themselves can compromise circulation. Some sensory deprivation suits can be suffocating. These suits are often made of latex, which can cause allergies. The dominant should monitor their submissive carefully to make sure they are safe throughout sensory deprivation play. The submissive should use a safeword or action if they want play to stop. However, the dominant should also pay attention and stop play if the submissive’s mental or physical safety becomes compromised.

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