Fear play – Wild for fear

Author: KatKristall
A to Z | Kinks

Fear play – What is it exactly?

As the word says it already, fear play is about playing with fear. The Top scares the bottom person in a consensual way and both become sexually aroused through this. Fear play is a borderline experience as it triggers strong feelings of fear. That is why it is also a dangerous form of play. Fear play is part of edgeplay, so it is a rather extreme practice that requires a lot of experience. In BDSM, we speak of edge play when a type of play involves a certain safety risk for the body or the mind. So, as the name suggests, it is a generic term for fear play. The term “mindfuck” is also often used in relation to fear play

Fear play plays with the same adrenaline rush as knife play or breath play. It can also be compared to skydiving, where your own fear and the risk of mortality are transformed into an intoxicatingly good experience with an endorphin and adrenaline cocktail. But this is exactly where the danger lies. Therefore, you should think carefully about the practices you want to try out in order to minimize the risks.

We all have fear. The difference lies in the question of what.

Frank Thiess

Why do people do fear play?

Playing with fear can be incredibly exciting, the exhilarating feeling of danger serves up a hormonal cocktail of adrenaline and dopamine that makes us fly. It is also the strong feeling of powerlessness and at the mercy that leads you to your own limits when you are afraid. At the same time, we also know the exhilarating feeling when you find yourself in a dangerous situation, which inspires you and puts you into fight or flight mode.

For many Doms, fear play represents a special form of power dynamics because it often involves an intimate and extreme form of trust and surrender to expose oneself to fear in such a way. For many Subs, this is precisely the appeal: to entrust their physical integrity or, under certain circumstances, even their own lives into the hands of the Dom. To be vulnerable and not only face fear but to be confronted with it. In the BDSM realm or in relationships with power dynamics, fear play is therefore said to have a particular intensity. Not every fear play is automatically dangerous; some are built on very subjective and personal fears.

Forms of fear play

Fear play is a collective term for a variety of practices that come in a variety of shapes and colors. The following list only represents a section of this very large field:

  • Breathplay, i.e. breathing control through choking, strangulation, closing the airways and more. There is a danger of suffocation here.

  • Roleplays: For example, sacrifice scenarios, interrogation games, kidnappings and many other possibilities

  • Knife play: Knife games represent a frightening scenario for many

  • Blood play: Anything that causes the partner to bleed; carries the risk of infections, deep wounds and scars, injury to arteries.

  • Cutting: The act of drawing patterns by cutting out skin. There is also a risk of injuries due to misjudgments or a lack of anatomical knowledge, as well as a risk of infection.

  • Needle games and games with staplers or skin staplers should be viewed similarly to cutting, knife and blood play.

  • Wax play: Play with candles or otherwise heated wax. Burns can occur here; some people are very afraid of this

  • Barebacking: Consciously refraining from safe sex, resulting in a significantly increased risk of contracting an STI/STD.

  • Branding: A lot can also go wrong when drawing patterns by burning the skin. Incorrect handling of the equipment, excessive temperatures and the risk of infection in the days afterwards are just a few of the many risk factors.

  • Urethral stretching: Using dilators or less suitable devices. This can damage the urethra and lead to serious infections.

  • Waterboarding poses a risk of drowning and trauma induction.

  • Rape play and games in general that fall under CNC (Consensual Non-Consent) as they have a great potential to cause trauma.

  • Sensory deprivation can often cause anxiety due to the loss of control

  • Blackmailing: blackmail is a special role-playing game that gives some people a kick

Not always are specific practices implied; even seemingly harmless activities, such as spanking and suspensions in Shibari, can become borderline intense with higher intensity.

What to consider:

Fear play is not compatible with the SSC principle because it does not allow playing “Safe” or “Sane”. The mental state of fear and panic often prevents clear communication. There must be a very close connection and great understanding between Top and Bottom in order to ensure security. If one is aware of the risks and consequences and is willing to accept them, the activity is considered RACK, risk-aware consensual action. For your own physical safety, it is important to take all safety measures and also prepare for intensive aftercare.

Physically, fear is one of the most extreme emotions we can experience. Recovering from a state of fear and panic, which, while exciting, is still intense, can feel like a real experience. Therefore, it’s important to distance oneself from that experience of fear. Similar to rape play, it can help to change the space or location, approach slowly, and establish safety through rituals. As thrilling and enriching as it can be, alongside all the obvious risks, such as the development of trauma, it can also lead to a severe emotional drop after the session.

If you want to play with dangers of this kind, the top priority is: Information! You must be prepared for all eventualities that can happen. You need to know how to minimize these risks and what measures need to be taken if your play gets out of hand. Be responsible and honest with each other. Additionally, you should have certain emergency numbers ready and pre-dial them on your phone just in case.

Fear play is not suitable for the first game or the beginning of a play relationship. Within the participants, trust and familiarity must exist to recognize the boundary at the right moment. It’s also important to know and discuss common boundaries and limits beforehand. A shared desire, understanding of the practice, and the willingness and comfort must necessarily be present to be able to accept any consequences.

Further information

You can find a comprehensive article about the different approaches to fear play, with a few example scenarios, on Deviance and Desire. This includes why the risk of serious injury can be sexy but a spider might not be.

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