In college, I read an article about Russian “whipping therapy.” At first I thought it was a joke—Siberian scientists were promoting flogging and caning as a “cure” for depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. Yet it still appears in occasional articles as a real, if controversial, treatment: 30 to 60 cane strokes or whip lashes administered to patients’ buttocks to promote serotonin flow. The treatment is not intended to be sexually stimulating for either the patient or the doctor.

When I first became active in the kink scene, I was in the middle of a major depressive episode. I’d known I was kinky long before I started showing symptoms of depression, so it wasn’t that I worried my depression was the result—or the cause—of my BDSM interest. But it made navigating my early years in the scene somewhat difficult.

Like many people with depression, I sometimes have trouble acknowledging that I’ve reached the point where I need help. It becomes hard to remember how my “normal” mind works, so I become convinced that I’ve always felt this way, thought this way, and that it’s a problem with my character, not my chemical makeup. But some part of me usually knows when things are getting bad, even if I don’t want to admit it.

I’m also what’s known in the BDSM world as a “pain slut”—a more affectionate, less DSM-5-y term for a masochist.

Read the full article:

BDSM and Mental Health by J.A. Rock

February 15, 2015, Updated February 15, 2017