Expiation of guilt
Guilt can be a motivation for engaging in some forms of pain play or other suffering as a way of accepting punishment for something you feel guilty about. This process of doing something to psychologically make amends is called expiating the guilt.
Guilt can come from many sources. It can come from recent poor or bad behaviour. Some family upbringings and some religions encourage their members to feel guilty. Regardless of the source, sometimes a good chastisement through caning, spanking, imprisonment or some other BDSM activity can keep the guilt at bay.
The following is an extract from BDSM Relationships - How They Work by Peter Masters, pp. 55 - 56:
Spanking, flogging, and caning are great staples of BDSM. You’ll find them in most places where BDSM is practised. Sometimes guilt is a motivator for doing them because some parts of our culture are very good at instilling guilt into people and it can last a very long time. If you’re one of these people with such a burden, and you were repeatedly disciplined at school then perhaps something similar in a BDSM dungeon can provide a suitable context and help you to get the guilt out of your system.
BDSM can provide a safe, supportive environment in which this expelling or expiation of guilt can occur. But again, it’s important that you communicate this need to your partner. A flogging for kinky sex is very different from a flogging for guilt, and when your partner knows exactly what you’re looking for they can help make sure that you get the punishment you need.