O&P website and blog,
are where most of my new writing on M/s appears. The IE website will stay
online indefinitely to host the IE Essays and lili's writings.
Maslow and the Actualized Slave
Carolyn Vakesh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(Carloyn's essay was originally published in our
group. For more information about Maslow,
Griffin's articles are good places to start.)
It seems to me that Maslow's hierarchy and theory of self-actualization
has a great deal to commend it to us for
consideration of where it fits within the M/s relationship.
Before I go any further, though, let me review the idea of Internal
My understanding of the use of the term is that Internal
Enslavement occurs when the following conditions are met:
1) The potential slave desires to become a slave to a particular
person and communicates that desire.
2) The person who would be her Master agrees to take
responsibility for the slave's basic emotional and physical
needs; requires her respect, obedience and honesty; and
commences a regimen designed to manifest the longing for
slavery into the actuality of enslavement.
If the two do not already live together, they move in together.
3) The Master uses various psychological tools and metaphors
to move the slave into a state where she is incapable of seeing
herself as anything other than his slave. This incapacity is
similar to the kind of incapacity that a religious Jew would have
of picturing himself eating non-kosher food or a committed
vegetarian would have eating meat. It is not that the slave
physically cannot be free; it is that her self-image is inextricably
tied into being a slave and to be otherwise would do violence to
her idea of self. Depending on the depth of her
slave-consciousness, she will only abandon it in cases of great
extremity (threat to life, threats to the those she loves, etc.)
4) Safe within the framework of her slavery, the slave manifests
happiness, service, the ability to function at higher levels in other
areas of her life, significant periods of peak flow experiences,
unselfishness, and joy.
There is a mistaken view in the bdsm world that because the
slave gives up everything, she is necessarily deprived of
everything. In fact, this does not occur. I have observed many
successful M/s relationships in the last 20 some years and the
reality is that at every level of Maslow's hierarchy (except perhaps
the top level) the slave's basic needs are met, frequently better
than the slave herself can meet them on her own. Her needs for
food, shelter, sleep, water, etc. are ensured by her Master's
watchful dominance of these areas.
She knows herself to be secure and in a stable relationship,
meeting Maslow's next level in the hierarchy of needs. (This, by
the way, is where I think many incipient M/s relationships go
wrong and fail to thrive. They embrace a notion of unpredictability
and instability as a way of keeping the slave off-balance. This
can be an erotic, short-term activity, but because it doesn't meet
the basic human needs of the slave, it provides an unstable
base on which to build.)
She is loved and loves with great devotion, knowing herself to
belong to her Master. This meets her need for love and
belongingness. She identifies with him and this creates that
group that is greater than her self.
Her esteem is validated by her Master when she meets his
requirements and expectations. In fact, it is frequently easier to
enjoy good self-esteem as a slave than as a non-slave since the
person who provides the validation that encourages this self-esteem
also provides a great deal of feedback on how the slave
must change her behavior in order to enjoy the esteem and
recognition of her Master.
This leaves only the final level of Maslow's hierarchy: self-actualization.
But how can we ever see a slave as self-
actualized? She is the opposite of self-actualized, isn't she? But
the dilemma is that when you look at the description of
self-actualization, it seems to be describing the slave.
According to Maslow, self-actualization resolves many
dichotomies: "opposites are seen to be unities and the whole
dichotomous way of thinking is recognized to be immature. For
self-actualizing people, there is a strong tendency for
selfishness and unselfishness to fuse into a higher subordinate
unity. Work tends to be the same as play; vocation and avocation
become the same thing. When duty is pleasant and pleasure is
fulfillment of duty, then they lose their separateness and
oppositeness. The highest maturity is discovered to include a
childlike quality. The inner-outer split between self and all else,
gets fuzzy and much less sharp and they are seen to be
permeable to each other at the highest level of personality
development. In these people, the conative, the cognitive, the
affective, and the motor are less separated from each other and
more synergic, that is, working collaboratively without conflict to
the same ends. The conclusions of rational, careful thinking are
apt to come to the same conclusions as those of the blind
Reading this, it seemed clear to me that what I was seeing
described was what occurs in a long-term slave. However, it
cannot be said that the slave is "self" actualized. She is
actualized by her Master. So can we look at the process of
creating this slave as one that can be better done by paying
close attention to Maslow's hierarchy? I think so. An
understanding that the slave gives up all that is within Maslow's
hierarchy as a voluntary act of submission and that she receives
it all back on the Master's terms is an excellent way to look at the
problem of creating internally enslaved people.