Sometimes he affects me in ways that I don't think he realizes. Most of the time I'm wrong; he does realize.
I don't think i have the right personality (meaning i am too insecure in many areas) to be an emotional masochist in the ways i understand it. I would never survive, i would be crushed irreparably, if he insulted me in ways i thought he meant as true insults, or threatened to withdraw - really withdraw, or did anything to make me think he truly didn't love or want me. I know this is an incredibly subtle distinction given that he beats me and calls me names and makes fun of me and uses selective withdrawing to correct my behavior. Context is absolutely everything.
But he plays it just right. He uses some of my deepest insecurities and plays just with the edges of them. And not just plays with them: he makes me continue to do or to face the thing, to continue to be the way that is very shaky for me. Without discussion, reassurance or even acknowledgement that is what he's doing. That's part of the insecurity and part of the challenge - I have to believe he knows what he's doing and that he's intentionally doing it and that it's how he wants me to be. I have to trust that this is me submitting and not just him being an ass. It's all completely specific to me: likely anyone else would not even notice, or think me a huge baby. But they have a big impact on me.
It's the same with some physical things. To say i am insecure about my body would be the understatement of the century. Logic would say that he would not do anything to push that. And he does build me up in all the ways a husband does - he loves my body - even if i don't. But he owns my body along with the rest of me, and he doesn't shy away from that.
Limb lopping is hypothetical and ridiculous (certainly for us), to the point of being meaningless as a discussion. Toying with perhaps more realistic hypotheticals however is hot - he teases me with the idea of nipple piercings, is fascinated by fire play.... Again - context is everything - i know those would be so boring to others. Controlling my dress or hairstyle, having me get tattoos or piercings, those are things i think i would find appealing, would make me feel submissive.
Instead, he does small things to my body that i would put a stop to if we were different. For example, the canings are leaving discolored, rough, hard areas on my ass - not something that goes away with lotion - but a visible, tactile, not so nice, not at all what you would want, area on each cheek. It has to be less attractive than the pre- version, less attractive on a person who has pretty deep insecurities about my attractiveness. I've pointed this out - in case he hadn't noticed. He treats it like just like he does the more mental things: he doesn't discuss or acknowledge it. He looks at my ass a whole lot more often than i do and i have to trust that he wants it this way.
These are little things - but they hit a very specific spot for me. I think that's part of his dominance - has always been it for him - he sets the pace and the tone and it isn't usually grand, sweeping gestures - it's things that are intimately and specifically aimed at challenging me.