Subspace and the Magical Mix of Mind and Chemistry

by Waepen Ess

Subspace is experienced differently by different people and for different reasons. Headspace is one variable in the equation and a very significant part of the experience of subspace. That is the state of mind of the person experiencing subspace.


Headspace is about the belief, focus, intensity, reaction to the environment and emotional sensitivty of the bottom.

Belief would be the level of acceptance that the state of subspace exists and that it can be attained. If a bottom has an open mind, they will be more receptive to getting to “that place”.

Focus is the ability of a bottom to push out distractions and stay in the moment. So a bottom who focuses in on the activity that is inducing subspace, for example flogging, knife play, fire play, humiliation etc, and who can also push out distractions and noise around the scene, is going to open the pathway to subspace.

Intensity is a measure of the application of the activity that is inducing the subspace and the reaction physically and mentally of the bottom. If things are going too slow or are not creating an impact on the bottom it might cause boredom, lack of focus and a susceptibility to falling off the path. For example, if a top flogs a bottom with a lame, light flogger and is not really causing any distress, the bottom’s mind might wander. If the top applies an appropriate flogger, in the right amount, with the right timing that it provides enough stimulus, it will help keep the bottom’s attention. The bottom’s need to process and focus on the sensation will help them maintain focus and stay in the moment.

Reaction to the environment is about being in a physical location that allows a bottom to open up and feel comfortable enough to let themselves focus and push out external distractions. An example of this is that it would be more difficult to induce subspace by inflicting humiliation or flogging on a bottom at a vanilla family reunion, than it would be at a BDSM “family” play party or a private dungeon.

• I add the variable of emotional sensitivity because I see this as affecting a person’s experience to get into a mood receptive to subspace. I have found that many bottoms who typically experience wide emotional swings in their vanilla life also experience deeper states of subspace, at least outwardly. This would be the “drama queen” variable. This is not to say that people who experience wide emotional swings are all drama queens, it is just that for whatever physiological and psychological reasons, in my experience, those who display a lot of expression in how they exhibit their emotions tend to react with greater expression while in subspace than those who are considered more even tempered and tend to display little emotion.

I am going to hear it, so I might as well caveat my examples. People are going to have varying reactions and experiences to all my examples. Someone who really reacts to humiliation, may actually want to be humiliated in their vanilla world and to some it would totally turn their stomach. People are all different. People react differently to the heat of jalapeno peppers and some can tolerate more pain than others. Every variable I listed affects each person differently. Some require very little physical stimuli, some much more. Thus their labels variables….

These four factors or variables impact headspace or the state of mind to experience full on subspace, but it is one half of the formula for subspace.


The other part of the subspace equation is significant and happens to be the part you chose to leave out. I can understand why, as it requires a significant discussion on physiology and chemistry. Most of that would be over our heads as laymen in the world of BDSM. But it must be considered because it is what often has the most impact. To keep it simple I will explain that the chemical reaction in the body during an inducement of subspace is closely related to the reaction of taking morphine.

For each person morphine can have a different reaction. For the most part it relieves pain in the body. This is why the body produces the morphine-like chemicals, to help the body cope with physical and even mental stress it is experiencing. People also have other reactions though. Some experience intense focus, some feel “spacey”, some get giddy, and some might feel tired or relaxed. Some feel no mental or physical change other than the pain relief. The point is people react differently to morphine and thus they will react differently to endorphins released inside their body during stress. If you have ever had morphine, you will most likely understand what subspace will feel like to you.


It is the combination of these two major factors—headspace and chemical induction—that will help us understand the experience of subspace and why it is experienced so differently between individuals. If you are a person who has an openness to experience the very real state of subspace, experiences emotions colorfully, is comfortable in the surroundings, can stay in the moment and has a top that can induce the release of endorphins in your body, you MAY have a significant subspace experience. Any lacking in any of the headspace variables may reduce your experience.

Finally, I would like to add, that if either can’t be attained, such as a bottom is in their headspace but the top is not pushing the body, OR if the bottom is having a hard time being in the moment, but a great top is working magic, there still can be a subspace experience. Further proof that everyone can experience subspace differently.


WaepenEssWaepen Ess is the Master of EssHaus. Outwardly, he is a contemporary Southern Gentleman and a little bit of an age-mellowed fraternity guy. Unapologetically, he is not a metro-sexual nor does he care to be. At work he is a certified professional. At home he is a certifiable Dad. He is a contrarian and has a quiet disdain for the close minded, the mindless, the uninformed, lemmings, extremists, and unnecessary drama. Find him on FetLife.

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