BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance/submission, sadism-masochism) seems to be a topic of immense fascination for laypeople and social scientists alike. Although in the past the practice has been stigmatized as deviant, and a reflection of psychopathology, there is growing evidence that consensual BDSM practices may actually be a healthy way that many people express their inner sexual desires and fantasies. A recent study (Botta, Nimbi, Tripodi, Silvaggi, & Simonelli, 2019) examined sexual satisfaction and functioning among BDSM practitioners and found that not only do practitioners appear to be well-adjusted, some, particularly those who prefer the dominant role, appear to be more satisfied with their sexuality than non-practitioners. The reasons are not yet known, but it may be because those in the dominant role may have personality traits that are particularly conducive to good mental health.

A growing body of research has explored the psychological aspects of BDSM. I have reviewed a few of the relevant studies in previous posts (hereand here). BDSM encompasses a wide range of practices typically associated with control, humiliation, physical restriction, and role playing (Botta et al., 2019). Typically, practitioners adopt particular roles during their activities, most commonly either as a “dominant” who exerts control over others, or a “submissive” who consents to being controlled. Some people have a fixed preference for either role, while some people are “switches” who prefer to alternate between these roles. The actual practices people may engage in are extraordinarily diverse, and while some practitioners may only engage in a few preferred activities, others may experiment flexibly with a wide array of scenarios. Although there seems to be a popular idea that BDSM is something only a few odd individuals engage in, surveys have shown that it is far more common: Between 10 and 50% of people surveyed have admitted to engaging in some form of it and many more at least fantasize about it (Coppens, Brink, Huys, Fransen, & Morrens, 2019).

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Sexual Satisfaction in BDSM by Scott A. McGreal MSc.

May 29th, 2019