Initialistic ambiguity

From the NYT op-ed page on the 14th, in T. M. Luhrmann’s column “When God Is Your Therapist”:

… the Rev. Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, teaches you to identify your self-critical, self-demeaning thoughts, to interrupt them and recognize them as mistaken, and to replace them with different thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapists often ask their patients to write down the critical, debilitating thoughts that make their lives so difficult, and to practice using different ones. That is more or less what Warren invites readers to do. He spells out thoughts he thinks his readers have but don’t want, and then asks them to consider themselves from God’s point of view: not as the inadequate people they feel themselves to be, but as loved, as relevant and as having purpose.

It was the reference to cognitive behavioral therapy (or as Luhrmann has it, Cognitive-behavioral therapy). After the first mention, most writers shift to using the initialism CBT to refer this approach to psychotherapy. And then I have a moment of entertaining the possibility that the writer is talking about the fetish/kink cock and ball torture, also abbreviated as CBT. Context sorts things out, of course, though it entertains me to think of psychotherapists treating their patients with cock and ball torture, or BDSM folk torturing people with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Wikipedia on CBT, type 1:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures. The name refers to behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and to therapy based upon a combination of basic behavioral and cognitive principles and research. Most therapists working with patients dealing with anxiety and depression use a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy. This technique acknowledges that there may be behaviors that cannot be controlled through rational thought. CBT is “problem focused” (undertaken for specific problems) and “action oriented” (therapist tries to assist the client in selecting specific strategies to help address those problems).

Wikipedia on CBT, type 2:

Cock and ball torture (CBT) is a sexual activity involving torture of the male genitals. This may involve directly painful activities, such as wax play, genital spanking, squeezing, ball-busting, genital flogging, urethral play, tickle torture, erotic electrostimulation or even kicking.

The recipient of such activities may receive direct physical pleasure via masochism, or emotional pleasure through knowledge that the play is pleasing to a sadistic dominant.

The utility of the initialism CBT for type 1 CBT is obvious, since the three-syllable initialism stands for a ten-syllable expression, a huge saving. The syllable saving for type 2 CBT is less impressive — three syllables instead of five — but still significant, and the initialism allows people who are into BDSM to talk about CBT in the earshot of outsiders without squicking them too much.

But of course abbreviation loses information, and, hence, potentially loses clarity (in favor of brevity) and may introduce ambiguity (as in this case).

I’ll take up some technical terminology from the world of CBT (type 2) in a moment, relying for the most part on the Wikipedia entry. But first clothespin torture as applied to balls and/or cock (clothespins are most commonly applied for pain, and intermingled pleasure, on the nipples, but they can be used on any part of the body where they can get a purchase). Two images on AZBlogX: two men undergoing clothespin ball torture in a complex BDSM scene; and a guy applying 50 wooden clothespins to his own balls and cock (in auto-torture).

My posting on “Commercial categories: gay sex toys” listed some CBT items, but the Wikipedia piece goes into more detail. On ball-busting:

Ballbusting is a form of CBT in which a man has his testicles kicked, kneed, punched or squeezed. In addition to its occasional role in BDSM pornography, Tamakeri (玉蹴り)(lit. ball kicking) is a separate genre in Japan.

and on some of the devices of CBT, among them: ball stretcher, ball crusher, parachute, humbler, and testicle cuffs. Some explanation of the last three from the Wikipedia piece:

Parachute. A parachute is a small collar, usually made from leather, which fastens around the scrotum, and from which weights can be hung. It is conical in shape, with three or four short chains hanging beneath, to which weights can be attached.

Used as part of cock and ball torture within a BDSM relationship, the parachute provides a constant drag, and squeezing effect on the man’s testicles, moderate weights of 3–5 kg can be suspended, especially during bondage. Smaller weights can be used when the man is free to move, when the swinging effect of the weight can restrict sudden movements, as well as providing a visual stimulus for the dominant partner.

Humbler. A humbler is a BDSM physical restraint device used to restrict the movement of a submissive male participant in a BDSM scene.

The humbler consists of a testicle cuff device that clamps around the base of the scrotum, mounted in the centre of a bar that passes behind the thighs at the base of the buttocks. This forces the wearer to keep his legs folded forward, as any attempt to straighten the legs even slightly pulls directly on the scrotum, causing considerable discomfort.

Testicle cuff. A testicle cuff is a ring-shaped device around the scrotum between the body and the testicles such that when closed it does not allow the testicles to pass through it. A common type has two connected cuffs; one for the scrotum and one for the base of the penis. They are one of many different gadgets for restraining the male genitalia. Also a standard padlock may be locked around the scrotum, and without the key the man will not be able to remove it.

Some men enjoy the feeling of being ‘owned’, and some people enjoy the feeling of ‘owning’ their partners. Making the man wear testicle cuffs gives a sense that his sexual organs belong to his partner. Equally, there is a certain level of humiliation inherent in the devices, by which some people are sexually aroused. Finally, the cuffs may form part of a sexual fetish of the wearer or his partner.

Then there’s the Arab strap:

An Arab strap is a sexual device, usually made of leather and a metal ring, that is placed around the penis and testicles… The name is probably derived from restraining devices used for mating Arabian horses, including the analogous method of binding.

… The device includes metal rings placed around the penis shaft and penis base, which are connected with each other by the leather or rubber straps intended for holding the rings in place and for testicle restraining. The rings measure the standard penis diameters from 2 to 3.5 inches and usually are not the same. The base ring is a little larger in size repeating the anatomy of the male organ. The width of the straps varies in different devices for more convenience. The straps may include the buckles for adjusting the device and can be lockable for creating the chastity male strap on.

… Though the sex toy is applied after the erection has taken place, the Arab Strap can also be used on a flaccid penis as a cock and ball torture device placed in a special way for BDSM popular practice and some bondage cultures. The straps worn on the penis and testicles prevent the wearer from engaging in intercourse and thus play the role of a chastity device; symbolically, the sexual organs “belong to” the dominant partner.

The ways of sexual desire and pleasure are various and complicated.

3 Responses to “Initialistic ambiguity”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Tané Tachyon on Facebook:

    I see it used to mean “Computer-Based Training” as well, which in that case and the therapy case has the effect of making a lot of articles unintentionally funny to me.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    A personal note (skip this if you’re concerned about TMI): I have no experience in, or interest in, CBT in real life (though I have a rich fantasy life), but nipple things (including clothespins and nipple clamps) have worked well for me.

  3. Michael Says:

    Another meaning of the acronym in the United Kingdom is Compulsory Basic Training, part of the process of obtaining a driving licence valid for motorbike use.

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