BDSM is Healthy

A recent study showing the overall relative well-being of people who engage in BDSM compared to those who don’t was brought to my attention recently by a client and by a friend. Like with gays and lesbians up until the 50s, there has been a general feeling within the mental health profession that those who practice alternative sexualities have higher rates of psychopathology. This opinion is changing.

This current study does not use the American “gold standards” of assessing mental health [one of the instruments they used (NEO) I use in my practice specifically because it is designed to NOT measure psychopathology], but still can provide good evidence of overall mental well-being. There has, so far, been insufficient research on the mental health of alternative sexualities (and relationships), but this appears to be a good start.

Another recent sign of the changing opinion on alternative sexuality is the recent publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). This is the first time in the history of the book–intended to guide the diagnosis of mental disorders– has specifically distinguished between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders, noting that “a paraphilia is necessary but not sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention” (p. 686).

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About Denis "Woodja" Flanigan

A Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Houston, he received his M.S. in Psychology and Ph. D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida. He has over 10 years experience in working with high school and college students and adults in counseling centers, community mental health settings, and private practice addressing a wide range of psychological issues. He is an expert on non-traditional relationships and accepting of non-traditional belief systems.

3 thoughts on “BDSM is Healthy

  1. I wonder how they advertised the surveys. I think that the BDSM communities are pretty good at getting rid of people who have issues with personal interactions. So, if the questionnaires were advertised through BDSM groups, the sample may have produced these favorable results due to the self-policing nature of the community. If this is the case, I would not be surprised if the rates of psychopathology are the same among BDSM practitioners as the general population, rather than lower than the general population.

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