An anonymous reader writes:

This may be a bit odd, but I’m writing out of hope to gain some courage.

I’m in the midst of writing my physics dissertation and I’ve never cared so much about any work in my life. Doing the work taught me many things about my own capacity for intellectual heartbreak and triumph in equal measure. I am… proud of the work that I’ve done, yet deeply insecure about it, and perhaps above all, mortified by the thought of submitting it to the red ink of my advisor.

He’s been largely in the background for most of this process, but over all kind and patient, if blunt. Until very recently I didn’t understand that I could be so passionate about my work, and I’ll admit that I at first confused my own newfound perfectionism with a desire to please an intimidating authority figure—or at least avoid another serious talking to like the one he gave me early on in my work.

I introspected a lot about my authority issues (many), and tried to consider as objectively as possible that he might have a point, and decided to swallow my pride and keep trying. I am now glad that I did, I think. But I’m also apprehensive. I trust that he has my best interests in mind and doesn’t think badly of me, but I am deeply sensitive to criticism. And I know that criticism is both inevitable and, if given in good faith, vital for growth.

You may be wondering why I’m writing this to a spanking blog, although I wouldn’t be surprised if you understood completely: from reading your stories, I know that you’re deeply aware of the eroticism that may be found in the relationship between teacher and student, as well as in the learning process itself. It’s the lustful part of my brain, disconnected from reality, that wonders breathlessly what submitting to a different sort of humbling experience would be like: one experienced naked, across his lap.

I am eroticising a difficult experience to cope with it; the fantasy of accepting physical discipline from someone I respect and find attractive turns me on, while knowing that I must open myself up to criticism of my work terrifies me. Even so, I have now done a difficult thing by offering you my writing, my obvious kink for authority, and the knowledge that I’m a very naughty girl indeed, to be touching myself to the thought of a sound spanking from my mentor. Perhaps now, it may be easier to do the most difficult thing…

Thank you dear reader, for putting into words something that I expect many other readers of this blog will have felt themselves. It is common to eroticise difficult, awkward and embarrassing situations.

And this reveals a deeper truth:

Anxiety and fear are two separate emotions.

Some might think they’re the same, that anxiety is just a milder form of fear, but they’re not.

Anxiety originates from desire.

Fear originates from danger.

People eroticise situations that might otherwise be socially or physically painful. That’s why the most common sexual fantasies feature authority, punishment, nudity and humiliation. By fantasising about shame, we can take control it, like lightning in a bottle – and channel that powerful psychological energy into our minds’ pleasure centres instead. Safely, in the privacy of the bedroom.

If fear had the same psychological basis, the most common sexual fantasies would involve heights, snakes and creepy-crawlies. But they don’t. Fear is a primal response, a self-protection mechanism that’s billions of years old. It exists to keep us safe, from perils that could be lethal.

But anxieties arise from our wants: our desire to be liked, to be accepted, to be pretty, to be successful. All factors that might lead to us being considered socially and sexually attractive.

Those who consider authority figures erotic often fantasise about impressing them. They crave their attention, they want to be told they’re the cleverest, the most brilliant, or best-behaved.

That’s probably why the schoolgirl scenario is so popular, a chance to replay and eroticise your own memories. To imagine what it would be like if that teacher you had a crush on really was as strict as they were in your dreams. Your aversion to failure demands that even imaginary rule-breaking must have consequences. And for many, that means a good hard spanking on the bare bottom.

Many misinterpret the powerful urges of their own sexuality as
something bad, deviant or filthy. But in reality, your sexuality is a mental resource, as much an asset as your creativity, insight or concentration. The best erotic mentors are not motivated by their own gratification, but by a desire to teach others how to understand their own superpowers.

Your sexual energy is a fire, a means to transmute anxiety into pleasure. In a very personal act of alchemy…