Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy (LIIST)

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Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Bondage by Mistress Couple

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book cover for the ultimate guide to bondageReview of The Ultimate Guide to Bondage: Creating Intimacy Through the Art of Restraint. By Mistress Couple, Jersey City, NJ, Cleis Press, 2018. 294 pp. $ 16.95 (softcover). ISBN: 978-1-62778-274-6

Dr. Rosara Torrisi, LCSW, MEd, CST, PhD

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage is exquisitely written, from nose to tail. With Mistress Couple’s writing style, it is easy to be right there with her. This book is encompassing of all the information necessary to become a rising bondage practitioner. If you find yourself struggling against Mistress Couple’s instruction throughout this book, consider what this might say about your own relationship to dominance and submission. It is not feasible, however, for 294 pages to make up for real-world experiences. As a sex therapist and educator, I recommend that you make note of where you have questions, meet up with respected bondage experts in your area, and learn more.

The introduction follows Mistress Couple’s journey to bondage and is the beginning of a thoughtful examination. This primer underscores the quality of her training and expertise as a Mistress. She is honest, cautious with her reader, and tenderly nudges as she engages the reader on this journey. Her expert advice is evident, as she effortlessly speaks to the novice and the professional alike.

As a researcher and professor, I appreciate that Mistress Couple gives credit where it is due. The historical contexts are part of the cultural sensitivity needed when appropriating techniques. It is an act of privilege to disregard the historical implications of what one might be using for play. Although my academic background would have done this differently, I do appreciate that Mistress Couple’s footnotes link to sources that are not in scientific journals. This means the resources are more readily available to any reader.

Mistress Couple utilizes recognizable educational pathways to instruct her readers. There is a well-rounded definition of terms used throughout the book. These definitions allow everyone to understand her vocabulary the way she intends to use the words. She also uses accessible examples for complex ideas. The flow chart provides a structure for readers to absorb how bondage techniques crystalize or bifurcate. The number/color system of pain/pleasure considers multiple dimensions to quickly convey receptivity. The overview of the most common materials used in bondage is outstanding. There are also valuable pictures, drawings, and first-person-account essays. She also provides a quick overview of prevailing ideas within the mental health community about the origins of fetishes.

I agree with Mistress Couple’s connections of bondage to birth, trauma, consent, intimacy, and finding the authentic self. The Ultimate Guide to Bondage persistently reminds the reader to enact emotional and physical safety measures. More than sexual tension is released through sexual connection, so trauma-informed bondage is crucial. The conversation about how to receive and give consent is refreshing and woven throughout the book. It would be wonderful for everyone to understand consent so well, regardless of involvement in BDSM. I find Mistress Couple’s assessment of restraint as a method of returning to the universal experience of being in a womb, and the release of traumas such as birth, to be quite interesting. Developmental, trauma and attachment therapists will recognize their theories echoed in these pages.71MQJ8rUA9L

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage is comprehensive for those personally and professionally interested in bondage. There are some areas of BDSM in general that are not discussed in this book. For example, further exploration is needed for anyone interested in learning more about anatomy and physiology, role play, specific fetishes, penetrative play, impact play, and non-monogamy. This book could easily be used in an academic course, along with scientific journal articles and supporting primary documents.

Rosara Torrisi, LMSW is a Kink-Aware Therapist

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Rosara Torrisi, LMSW has been recognized by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) as a welcoming and Kink Aware therapist. You can view her profile on their website here.

The NCSF is THE resource for people who are seeking psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals who are informed about the diversity of consensual, adult sexuality.

What does kink aware mean?
Kink-Aware Professionals have specific knowledge of kink concepts and lifestyles, have researched and educated themselves in these areas. Kink Aware Professionals likely have some previous experience providing professional services to individuals with these interests.