I also don’t have any psychiatry training, but I’ve recently heard some pretty compelling ideas about why people are drawn to humiliation play.
The word ‘sublime’ springs to mind.
In the philosophical sense, it refers to ‘greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement, or imitation’. (from Wikipedia) That is, something that we cannot comprehend through reason. A thing that might scare us, be unknown, or inspire awe.
Some people choose to immerse themselves in the sublime by contemplating the vast universe, by watching horror movies, or doing extreme sports, for example. Others confront and explore it through consensual power exchange, submitting to a trusted dominant play partner to be ‘degraded’ or ‘humiliated’ within boundaries, and with safeguards in place.
By confronting taboos, fears, and desires we don’t understand, in a safe, sane and consensual kink headspace, we‘re often choosing to work through vulnerabilities and blind-spots. To learn something new about a situation that’s unknown. To confront and question the rules we live by, and learn more about ourselves and our play partner(s).
For many, the process of submission can be a temporary release from being in control, which can be healing. It can also help build insight and psychological ‘tools’ to understand and hopefully disarm negative situations encountered in everyday life, such as coercive/ controlling behaviour.
Whether the fantasy is ever worked into something real or not, it’s completely human to be drawn to things we don’t fully understand, or even fear.
It’s fun to have naughty secrets too, of course!