A common theme I've heard from masochists in reference to certain activities is "I hate it, and yet I love it.". The things we hate hold power over us, and for many masochists, they hold themselves right up against the things they hate and fear, and in doing so confront the deepest parts of themselves.
It's it's powerful, and it's brave. And I wondered what experience I had, on the other side of this equation, that could match this fearsome awesomeness. And then I realized it: Cults
I am deeply afraid of cults.
My mother joined a cult-like group when I was in my teens, and her "new friends" told her to leave her family. "They don't understand you. They don't support you", they told her. Back in the days before cell phones, I would answer the phone in my house, and I'd have people calling for my mother every ten or twenty minutes. "No, she's not here.", I'd tell them. "...You called fifteen minutes ago and I told you, I'll give her the message you called.". Her newfound friends called me obstructionist and rude, all the while my mother's presence in my home gradually decreased until one day she literally disappeared for a couple of weeks, not telling me or my father where she'd gone.
I studied Psychology, paying careful attention to group psychology, understanding Groupthink, studying the Milgram Obedience studies and the Stanford prison experiment. I wanted to understand what could make people not only obey, but lose themselves entirely in a charismatic, but malicious leader.
To this day, I distrust anything that smells of cult-like behavior. When I'm offered a free stress test, I have to consciously unball my fists. When Jehovah Witnesses come to my door or call my house, I make it clear that their presence in my life is unwelcome, and when I found out a partner of mine had accepted a free Shabbat dinner at a Chabad house, I nearly lost my shit.
And yet, I find brainwashing hot. I especially love exaggerated, eroticized mind control transformation. I practice hypnosis, and a little part of me jumps in glee every time a partner's head drops down. Seeing someone lose themselves in that moment, become my plaything, under my control is indescribably hot.
In that moment, I am the object of my own fears. I am the scary threat.
I love it, and I hate that I love it, and I love that I hate that I love it.