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Internal Enslavement Glossary

This Glossary briefly defines some of the key terms used in Internal Enslavement, and provides links to essays with more information. Words and phrases in italics are cross references to other items in the Glossary.

For general BDSM definitions, please see the BDSM Dictionary on Informed Consent

Dominance Economy
The view that real-life, competent dominance is a scarce resource, which is highly sought after by submissives seeking to become slaves.
Essay: "Finding Enslavement"

Ego States
One of the basic ideas of Transactional Analysis is that people's minds can occupy one of three Ego States: Parent, Adult or Child. That is, using thought patterns and rules which the person learnt or copied from parental figures in childhood; using emotionless, adult awareness; or using instinctive child-like emotions preserved from childhood.
Essay: "Ego states, Parent - Adult - Child"

Emotional Bondage
An older term for the state of Enslavement, in which the Master is in sufficient control of the slave's mental environment that the idea of returning to freedom is unthinkable.

External Enslavement
Slavery which is made inescapable by physical forces rather than the slave's internal psychological state. Legally or socially enforced slavery is an example of External Enslavement. Compare this to Internal Enslavement.

Psychological Helplessness is a concept from the Theory of Reactance, in which the struggling and reactance of a subject melts away if the restriction is sufficiently high. Mainstream psychologists normally assume it is associated with negative feelings of depression and low performance ("Negative Helplessness"), but we observe it is experienced as a positive emotion during some aspects of BDSM, such as Bondage, and during Internal Enslavement ("Positive Helplessness".) A positive response to living in Helplessness is the defining characteristic of the natural slave.
Essay: "Reactance to Enslavement"

Internal Enslavement (IE)
Internal Enslavement aims to develop practical techniques which use detailed examination of a slave's thoughts, emotions and past experiences to establish and maintain a solid and inescapable state of ownership. This is achieved through control of the slave's psychological states, in contrast to External Enslavement
Essay: "Frequently Asked Questions about Internal Enslavement"

literal slave
See slave.

The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary puts the definition of a slave's Master under the heading "I. A man having control or authority." and says "4a The owner of a living creature, as a dog, horse, slave; also, the man whom an animal is accustomed to obey." We discussing Internal Enslavement itself, we always mean a man who owns a slave when we use the term "Master".
When discussing Service and servants, the word Master may also refer to the head of a household: as the OED puts it "One who employs another in his service: correlative with servant" and "The male head of a house or household."

The practice of having a single female slave, partner or wife, rather than two or more, as in polygyny.
Essay: "Polygynous Enslavement"

Used to signify someone with some real life experience of submission, but nothing in committed Ongoing Voluntary Submission or slave relationships, in the four-point experience scale: none, novice, servant and slave. (Traditionally, novice is a stage before taking vows.)

natural slave
A Natural Slave is a person for whom slavery can be better than freedom, since they have the capacity to experience less Reactance when living in that condition, without the depression normally associated with psychological Helplessness. Thus they are suited to slavery by their nature - by some inherent quality of their psychological makeup.
Essay: "The Natural Slave"

Ongoing Voluntary Submission
A relationship in which a submissive continually consents to obey and serve a dominant, and their continued presence in the relationship is voluntary. (Contrast with slave)

The practice of having two or more female slaves, partners or wives, rather than a single female, as in monogyny.
Essay: "Polygynous Enslavement"

Brehm summarised his Theory of Psychological Reactance by saying "In general, the theory holds that a threat to or loss of a freedom motivates the individual to restore that freedom. ... The theory stipulates what constitutes a freedom, how freedoms can be threatened or eliminated, and how the ensuing motivational state (psychological reactance) will manifest itself." The theory also associates the state of reactance with emotional stress, anxiety, resistance and struggle for the individual, and is a powerful model for understanding the behaviour of slaves as their freedoms are progressively removed.
Essay: "Reactance to Enslavement"

Someone who serves another by working for their benefit and obeying their commands. Thus almost all slaves are also servants, since their owner requires their service and has the authority to obtain it. However, servant is frequently used to refer to submissives who are not slaves, but are rather in Ongoing Voluntary Submission. Servant is also used as a level of experience, to signify that someone has lived in this condition, in the four-point experience scale: none, novice, servant and slave.

One of the key concepts of IE is the literal slave: this is just the everyday definition of "slave" and it doesn't include the roleplay slaves you sometimes meet elsewhere in BDSM. For example, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary gives: "One who is the property of, and entirely subject to another person, whether by capture, purchase or birth; a servant completely divested of freedom and personal rights." When we say "slave", we mean literal slave, defined in this way. (Contrast with Ongoing Voluntary Submission.) Also used as a level of experience, to signify that someone has lived in this condition, in the four-point experience scale: none, novice, servant and slave.

Submission in Stages
A model for managing consent and the transfer of authority in the very early stages of a submission relationship, before Enslavement is sufficiently well established that the submissive consents to the dominant taking full authority over all aspects of her life.
Essay: "Finding Enslavement"

Total Power Exchange (TPE)
A term coined and defined by Steven S. Davis in the mid-1990's: "A TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationship, sometimes described as an absolute lifestyle d&s relationship ... is a relationship in which no impediment to the exercise of the owner's power is accepted ... Such things as safewords, contracts, negotiated limits, and anything else which recognizes / acknowledges / formalizes limits on the owner's power are inimical to TPE." Although there is a large overlap between TPE and Internal Enslavement, we feel the term "TPE" is misleading in several respects and has lost much of its original meaning.
Essay: "The phrase 'Total Power Exchange'"

Transactional Analysis (TA)
Transactional Analysis (TA) is theory of personality and human interaction. Fundamental to TA is the concept that a person's mind can occupy different Ego States and that people's interactions ("transactions") can be better understood as transactions between different ego states. TA can be used within Internal Enslavement to analyse how Masters and slaves are relating.
Essay: "Ego states, Parent - Adult - Child"

Last updated 6 May 2003.

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