The ‘History of O’, the works of the Marquis de Sade, even the most recent trilogy ’50 shades of gray ‘, tried in various ways to illuminate the dark sides of sex. In fact, apart from movies and books, little is known about both the philosophy of BDSM and the people involved in the field. 

What is BDSM? 

The definition says that BDSM is a spectrum that includes erotic preferences and interpersonal relationships, colored by activities and role-playing games related to Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, as well as sadism and masochism (Sadism and Masochism). A prerequisite is the common consent of the adults who are going to be involved in these activities. There are BDSM participants who engage in specific practices (for example, submission only) and others who are less restricted and more ‘open’ to sexual experimentation. In order for everyone to be able to express themselves in this space, there are three categories / roles of participants: the dominant (those in control), the submissive (those who have handed over control) and the switches (which literally means switch, and is the one who alternates when he wants between the two previous roles). A basic principle for a BDSM relationship is that members are unequal and complementary – with a strong emphasis on sovereign commands and submissive obligations. Many people mistakenly believe that BDSM is all about pain, when in fact activities are about power and humiliation. 

There is also confusion as to whether anyone involved in the field has evidence of psychopathology or whether it is a simple occupation that offers pleasure. Those who have practiced BDSM and those who have even a theoretical knowledge of the subject, see BDSM as an erotic behavior – which although it can be extreme – does not hide any mental disorder. In the eyes of those who are out of space (vanilla as they are called), the thought that during sex one can be tied up or candles melted on one’s body, may seem more like torture than pleasure. This is where the division… For Mental Health Specialists begins, and according to the Diagnostic Manual for the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM), BDSM behaviors are deviant and sexually abnormal and are considered disorders that need treatment when the person is addicted to them and cannot enjoy any form of sexual expression other than those associated with BDSM. According to the DSM, both sadism and masochism are forms of paraphilia. However, it is a fact that there is not enough evidence in the literature to adequately support the association between paraphilia and BDSM behavior. This lack of evidence may be due to the fear of the unknown that surrounds those in the BDSM field (or so many believe). according to DSM, are forms of paraphilia. However, it is a fact that there is not enough evidence in the literature to adequately support the association between paraphilia and BDSM behavior. This lack of evidence may be due to the fear of the unknown that surrounds those in the BDSM field (or so many believe). according to DSM, are forms of paraphilia. However, it is a fact that there is not enough evidence in the literature to adequately support the association between paraphilia and BDSM behavior. This lack of evidence may be due to the fear of the unknown that surrounds those in the BDSM field (or so many believe). 

What do the experts say? 

So research efforts are being made by experts so that these gaps do not exist and we have even more information than myths about BDSM. We conclude that those who deal with this area do not have a mental disorder. More specifically, older theories have suggested that the majority of people with BDSM activities have experienced some form of violence (usually sexual) during childhood or adolescence, but this has not been verified by modern research. One of the most recent research is that of Andre Wismeijer and colleagues from the University of Tiburg in the Netherlands, who tried to find the personality traits that prevail in BDSM participants and how they differ from non-participants. The survey was conducted in the largest online community of people active in the field of BDSM. As a result, those compared to others outside the space, are: 

  • Less stable in their emotions 
  • More extroverted and communicative 
  • More social and interested in new acquaintances and experiences 
  • More diligent and consistent in their choices 
  • Less tolerant and condescending 
  • Less sensitive to a possible rejection 

The women who took part had higher levels of self-confidence in their love affairs, while showing that their need for acceptance from others was at relatively normal to low levels. In this study, they also dealt with the type of bond, ie the relationship that individuals had with their parents. In the end, it seemed interesting that those who currently have BDSM activities, in the past did not have a troubled relationship with his parents, their type of bond was not stressful, that is, as expected. 

In addition, few have had a traumatic sexual experience or abuse in the past. In fact, this group consists of women who mainly choose the role of submission and display elements of masochism. The autonomy, independence and dynamics of these individuals are evident both psychologically and interpersonally, as well as at the individual or companion level. They are people who express and communicate their desires more easily and in this way, often, help and enhance honest communication in their relationships (social or erotic).

A new direction is now being created that rewards the BDSM in terms of the psychopathological impression it has been giving so far – ‘abnormal and sick fetishes and jokes’. These results, however, should in no way overlook the risks posed by certain sadistic and masochistic behaviors that occur in BDSM activities. As adults who are there of their own free will, the essential ingredients are safety, honesty and trust between the partners they come in contact with – both at vanilla and BDSM level.

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