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A sunburn - hot and painful.

Pain descibes a feeling of physical hurt (suffering, discomfort or agony) or emotional distress, and is generally experienced as an unpleasant sensation. Physical pain is a subjective experience that accompanies nociception, but can also arise without any stimuli.

Pain serves as a protective mechanism (a warning signal) as it informs the person that something is potentially damaging to his or her body. Sudden, unexpected pain causes an instant safety reaction, such as withdrawing the limb from something that is hot or sharp. Pain, however, can also be present when no actual harm is being done to the body.

Verbs to express "causing (physical) pain":

  • to pain s.o.
  • to hurt
  • to ache
  • to smart
  • to sting
  • to burn

Pain in punishment[edit]

This anonymous drawing captures well the pain and suffering of the spankee.

Corporal punishment usually consists of inflicting a certain kind of physical pain (ideally, without danger of serious injury) for punishment. This principle is used in domestic and school corporal punishment as well as in judicial corporal punishment.

In corporal punishment, pain is usually caused by striking a part of the delinquent's body with the hand or with an implement, which stimulates the nociceptors of that skin area. The pain thus produced can be made as mild or intense as desired, allowing any range from light to severe punishment, while the physical dangers from such striking are minimal in the case of light spanking (usually only temporary redness), and non-critical for the delinquent's health in most other cases (mainly temporary marks such as welts or bruises).

In the last decades, most societies came to increasingly reject the principle of inflicting physical pain to wrongdoers, such as in judicial corporal punishment and in the corporal punishment of children in parenting and education. Still, in most countries, corporal punishment in parenting remains accepted and legal (as long as it is not considered abusive) and common in parenting.

Non-corporal forms of punishment are generally based on inflicting emotional rather than physical pain, such as reproof, scolding, removal of privileges, time-out, grounding, and humiliation.

Pleasure and pain[edit]

In contrast, this drawing by Louis Malteste conveys the light-hearted, pleasant side of spanking.

Pain and pleasure are traditionally seen as opposites. However in BDSM certain forms of pain are perceived as pleasure. Most BSDM activities seek to explore the wide range of possible "pleasant pain" or "erotic pain" sensations. Such pain puts the body under stress and the mind reacts accordingly. Inflicting enough pain causes pain-relieving endorphins to be released in a manner commonly associated with a runner's high.

In consensual spanking, the spanker may inflict pain on the spankee, which is intended as punishment and humiliation. A mild hand spanking on the bare buttocks does not inflict pain. A one-hour strapping often inflicts pain and leaves marks. The partners typically know what is desired.


It hurts so good
  Millie Jackson

Now there's not even breathing room between pleasure and pain...
  Aerosmith, Cryin'

See also[edit]