Control (noun) is the power, skill and ability to regulate, direct or determine something. "Power" can refer to physical power, but also to the exercising of authority, for example when giving a subordinate person orders or instructions. The corresponding verb is to control.
Something which can no longer be controlled is said to be out of control.
Control and self-control
A special case of control is self-control, which refers to control over one's own actions. People who lack self-control often behave inappropriately by the standards of society. Self-control is a learned ability, and much of parenting, child training and education focuses on building up self-control because it is an important social skill. Self-control is also an important topic in many religions, in sports, etc.
Control and punishment
Punishment is a lot about control:
- A person may be punished because they failed to exercise self-control where they should.
- The act of punishment is an act of control because the punisher controls the punishment and the delinquent.
- The purpose of punishment is usually to raise the delinquent's awareness of the severity of their offense, and the willingness to exercise greater self-control in future.
- Ideally, the punisher will exercise and display high self-control during the punishment. However in practice, the punisher may often be infuriated by the offense and then lack self-control themself, which can be a problem.
Control in consensual BDSM and spanking
In consensual BDSM and spanking, the partners usually like and enjoy the situation in which one partner has control over the other, they may also find it erotic. There are people who like to exercise control (see tops), there are people who like to be controlled (see bottoms), there are people who like both (see switches and assisting persons), and there are people who like to watch while control is exerted, or who like to fantasize about such control.
Control is found in all aspects of BDSM: in bondage and discipline, in domination and submission, and in sadism and masochism. A situation in which a person is controlling another, which will often, but not necessarily include punishment or humiliation, is also called a power exchange. Driven to its extreme, it is called Total Power Exchange or TPE.