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Self-bondage is the practice of sexual bondage without a partner; that is to say, tying or otherwise restraining oneself for the purpose of sexual pleasure. Because self-bondage is performed alone, it has several distinctive features not present in conventional bondage, including an increased element of risk; a need for reliable release mechanisms (after a delay); and special techniques for applying complex bondage to oneself even while movement becomes increasingly restricted. Self-bondage is also characterised by experimentation and ingenuity, and the opportunity to devise novel schemes and variations — in or out of fictional stories — is part of the appeal, and part of the increased danger.

Table of contents
1 Strict versus sensual
2 Release mechanisms
3 Techniques
4 Safety
5 Commercial equipment
6 See also
7 External links

Strict versus sensual

A distinction can be made between strict and sensual self-bondage [1]. In sensual self-bondage, escape from restraints is simple and available immediately, if desired. For example, the keys might be within reach or the knots loosely tied. The chief aim is the sensation of immobility and of constrained movement.

Strict self-bondage, by contrast, requires that the means of escape is unavailable for a period of time and the person must remain in bondage until the release mechanism is activated, regardless of whether or not they would voluntarily continue the scene further if they had the choice. Although strict self-bondage is potentially more hazardous, some practice it for the greater feeling of helplessness.

There is an alternative approach sometimes recommended which takes the middle ground, and achieves a compromise between safety and strictness. The method is to use a backup release mechanism that is available immediately, but carries with it some penalty or cost with its use. For example, keys could be placed in a bucket of paint. The person in self-bondage can escape quickly if necessary, such as a fire breaking out, or excessive numbness of limbs. However, the annoyance of cleaning up the paint afterwards would coerce the person into waiting for the main release mechanism to come into effect, even if they were merely bored or uncomfortable.

Release mechanisms

A variety of release mechanisms are used in self-bondage to allow the practicioner to escape the restraints after a period of time. There are various trade-offs to be made between ease-of-use, reliability, precision of timing, cost, and so forth. Often several mechanisms are used concurrently.


Apart from release mechanisms, self-bondage poses a somewhat awkward problem of getting into bondage, especially when using rope. What might be a relatively simple matter for couples can be considerably more complex alone.

With rope, the main difficulty is tying the hands in a way that is not easy to untie. One common solution is to use a cinch noose — essentially a slip knot — together with a coil (a loop of rope). The wrists are place through the coil with the cinch noose between the wrists and around the coil. To achieve a basic hogtie position, the cinch noose is tied to the ankles. With pressure, the noose tightens the wrist coil, securing the hands. It proves remarkably difficult to escape from and usually a knife or scissors is required to cut free.

Equipment that can be tightened only, and not loosened, often has application in self-bondage. For example, handcuffs, zip ties and ratchetinging pulleys.


Self-bondage is considered a higher risk activity than a number of other BDSM practices — particularly when combined with autoerotic asphyxia — and has lead to a number of recorded deaths. It is estimated that there are 500 to 1,000 autoerotic fatalities each year in the United States, of which a substantial proportion include self-bondage as a factor. The death in 1984 of Stephen Milligan, the British Conservative MP for Eastleigh, was a case of auto-erotic asphyxiation combined with self-bondage.

Self-bondage has all the risks of physical restraint and sexual bondage, with the added factor that should anything go wrong, there is no-one to effect a rescue. For example, if blood circulation cuts off sensation in limbs, the planned escape mechanism may not be useable.

Despite this, many practicioners insist that self-bondage can be performed relatively safely if it is conducted with a view to minimising risk. Common safety advice includes measures such as:

Commercial equipment

While for the most part self-bondage is performed using ordinary and easily available equipment (indeed, it lends itself to impromptu adaptation and a "do it yourself" approach), a few commercial products have appeared — in the
United States for the most part — catering for the self-bondage practicioner. One such toy is a pair of delayed release handcuffs which operate using the principle of melting ice [1]. Another vendor sells "Solo Play Straitjackets" [1].

See also

External links