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Finland joins Nordic sexual reform

Finland joins Nordic sexual reform

 

Finland joins Nordic sexual reform

Fourth country to completely remove fetish and SM diagnoses:
“Neither care, statistics nor research are harmed by abolition of the diagnoses”

A Nordic sexual rights reform model now challenges the World Health Organization since Finland removed five diagnoses of sexual preferences, sexual identities and gender expressions related to sexual orientation from their national ICD version. WHO is currently revising the International Classification of Diseases to an updated ICD-11 edition within 2015.

By Svein Skeid and Odd Reiersøl

Based on the Norwegian model and the groundbreaking work of the Revise F65 group, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) announced May 12, 2011, that Finland next year will remove the diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, Sadomasochism, Multiple disorders of sexual preference and dual-role transvestism from the Finnish ICD edition (THL, 2011).

These are exactly the same five diagnoses that Norway repealed more than one year ago, and the same diagnoses that Revise F65 has worked a decade to delete from the International Classification of Diseases published by The World Health Organization, WHO (Revise F65, 2010). Sweden removed six diagnoses of sexual behaviours in 2009, among them the same classifications as Norway and Finland now have deleted (The Local, 2008). Denmark withdrew the diagnoses of dual-role transvestism and sadomasochism in 1994 and 1995, respectively (Revise F65, 1995).

– The Nordic sexual rights reform movement is putting pressure on The World Health Organization to follow suit, says Svein Skeid, leader of the Revise F65 group. Revise F65 is a subdivision of LLH, The Norwegian LGBT Association. Currently four Nordic countries have repealed fetish- and SM diagnoses from their national ICD-versions.

– I am happy to inform you that the proposition to revise the ICD-10 classification concerning sadomasochism, fetishism and transvestism has passed in Finland, says Tommi Paalanen, Chairman of the Sexpo Foundation, the Finnish Foundation for Sex Education and Therapy. The proposition was made by SETA, The National LGBT rights organization in Finland and the Sexpo Foundation with a group of experts from many different fields.

Sexual orientation

In their official press release, The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare writes that “Changes in the categories related to sexual orientation in the Finnish version of ICD-10 have been proposed to THL.” The press release continues:

“After having evaluated information on the use of the categories in question therapeutically, their medical grounds, opinions of experts on the correctness and the necessity of the classification and general practices in Nordic countries, THL has, by the decision of the Director General, ended up removing the following categories from the Finnish version of ICD-10:

* F64.1 Dual-role transvestism
* F65.0 Fetishism
* F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
* F65.5 Sadomasochism
* F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference”

The Nordic Revise F65 model

– To date, we estimate that one to two million people in the Nordic countries belong to groups that primarily benefit from the sexual rights reform based on the well-documented Revise F65 model, says Svein Skeid. The Finnish decision strengthens Revise F65’s strategy to motivate more countries to remove their national versions of the ICD SM/fetish diagnoses.

– As four of the Nordic countries have now abolished the diagnoses for use at the respective national levels, this will be a significant professional and political signal to the World Health Organization in the revision process of the ICD-11. We strongly encourage WHO to follow the Nordic Revise F65 model and completely remove the five fetish, SM and trans-diagnoses in the forthcoming updated ICD 11-edition, Svein Skeid concludes.

ICD-11 Alpha Draft

According to the current ICD-11 Alpha Draft (picture left) retrieved May 20, 2011, Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, Sadomasochism and dual-role transvestism are not yet taken off the list of disorders of psychological development and gender identity. According to Senior Adviser Arild Johan Myrberg at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, WHO’s ICD revision process isdelayed by a year.

 

The diagnoses are so seldom in use, that neither care, statistics nor research are harmed by their abolition.

”We studied all cases over a period of ten years and found only occasional ones”, reports Dr. Jorma Komulainen, the chief physician at THL.

”These are not rare behavioural patterns, but only seldom is there any reason to seek medical treatment”, Komulainen notes. In fact, so seldom that the abolition of the categories will have no effect on statistics whatsoever. – More harm has been inflicted on people who have felt that they have been labelled by such diagnoses, he says.

During the last decade, the diagnoses in question have been used for therapeutic reasons less frequent that once a year. This can be understood as though neither physicians consider SM, fetishism and transvestism to be diseases, and that they reluctantly use the diagnoses.

”A year and a half ago, we made a decision to attempt at abolishing this category”, reports Minna-Maaria Lax, the chair of DreamWear Club, which is an association representing Finnish transvestites. ”The major problem is that when examining himself or herself, a transvestite may have noticed that he or she has a mental disorder, thereafter starting to regard himself or herself ill”, Lax notes. In conflict situations, for example during a divorce, the classification may have given a weapon to the other party. When it comes to social thinking, the use of these categories is likely to raise public disapproval of transvestites.

Stigmatizing diagnoses

The official reasons for the Finnish removal, are:

1) The medical criteria for the removed classifications are not clear.

2) The use of the categories in treatment records is rare, and their removal does not significantly influence the practice of health care statistics.

3) The use of these categories may cause harm to persons classified according to them.”

The Finnish arguments are similar to the documentation that Revise F65 has sent to The World Health Organization. Revise F65 argues that “the ICD diagnoses of Fetishism, Transvestic fetishism and Sadomasochism are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing” (Revise F65, 2009).

An internet-based survey carried out by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) with 3,058 respondents, showed that 37.5% of the participants indicated that they had experienced some form of discrimination, harassment or violence due to the social stigma attached to their fetish/BDSM orientation or behavior. The study included respondents from 41 countries, including Europe, in addition to the United States (83,4%). The survey concluded that “pathologizing unusual sexual interests has led to increased discrimination and discouraged individuals from seeking treatment for physical and mental health problems.” (Wright, 2008, 2010).

 

References:

THL (2011). ICD-10-tautiluokitusta päivitetään 2011. Announcement by THL, the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from http://www.thl.fi/doc/fi/25489

Revise F65 (2010). Fetish and SM no longer diseases in Norway. Retrieved May 12, 2011, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/friskmelding_eng.html

The Local (2008). Transvestism ‘no longer a disease’ in Sweden. Retrieved May 12, 2011, fromhttp://www.thelocal.se/15728/20081117/

Revise F65 (1995). Denmark withdraws SM from Diagnosis-list. Retrieved May 12, 2011, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/denmark.html

Revise F65 (2009). ICD Revision White Paper. Retrieved May 12, 2011, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/icd_whitepaper.html

Wright, S. (2008). Second National Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities. NCSF. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from http://www.ncsfreedom.org/images/stories/pdfs/BDSM_Survey/2008_bdsm_survey_analysis_final.pdf

Wright S. (2010). Depathologizing Consensual Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Transvestic Fetishism, and Fetishism. Archives of sexual behavior. Volume 39, Number 6, 1229-1230.

No more psychopathology among BDSM-people

There is no evidence that SM/fetish people have a higher degree of psychopathology than the rest of the population.

Wismeijer & van Assen (2013):
More heathy BDSMers

A Dutch study of 902 BDSM practitioners, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, suggests that the BDSMers had more favorable psychological characteristics than a control group of 434 respondants.

The BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extraverted and had higher subjective well-being than the control group.

The study, that was publised May 16, 2013, also suggests that the BDSM group was more conscientious and less rejection sensitive. BDSMers were however less agreeable than the control group. The doms scored lower than both the subs and the control group with respect to agreeableness. BDSM scores on health were generally more favorably for those with a dominant than a submissive role, with least favorable scores for controls.

Andreas A.J. Wismeijer PhD, Marcel A.L.M. van Assen PhD: Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 10, Issue 8, pages 1943–1952, August 2013.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12192/abstract

Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners
http://www.andreaswismeijer.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BDSM_JSM_Wismeijer_van-Assen.pdf

Brad Sagarin et al (2009):

The implication of two studies at the Northern Illinois University into hormonal changes associated with Sadomasochistic activities including spanking, bondage and flogging, suggest that it could bring consenting couples closer together. The increases in relationship closeness combined with the displays of caring and affection observed as part of the SM activities offer support for the modern view that SM, when performed consensually, has the potential to increase intimacy between participants. Sagarin, B. J. (picture), Cutler, B., Cutler, N., Lawler-Sagarin, K. A., & Matuszewich, L. (2009). Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 186-200.
http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0bjs1/papers/scclm09.pdf
http://pubget.com/paper/18563549

Cross and Matheson (2006):

Cross and Matheson (2006) found no support for the traditional theories that sadomasochism is an illness.

The researchers found no evidence for the psychopathology/medical-model contention that masochists suffer from any kind of mental disorder and that SM-sadists are antisocial (Krafft-Ebing 1886/1965).

There was no support for the traditional psychoanalytic view of self-harming and guilt-ridden masochists or id-driven and psychopatic SM-sadists (Freud 1900/1906/1953/1954).

Cross and Matheson neither found any evidence for Baumeister’s contention that masochists were more inclined to engage in escapist behaviors such as drug-taking, day-dreaming, or fantasizing than the comparison group (Baumeister 1988, 1989).

Cross and Matheson did however find that SM participants were overall more likely than non-SM respondents to report bisexual/homosexual orientations.

No evidence was found suggesting that sadomasochists espoused anti-feminist, patriarchal values or traditional gender roles to a greater extent that the non-SM-group.

And the sadomasochists were relatively more likely to be in ongoing relationships than the comparison group.

Patricia A. Cross PhD and Kim Matheson PhD in the book “Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures” (2006), published simultaneously as the Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 50, Nos. 2/3.)

Connolly et al (2006):

Results from a research project by Dr. Pamela Connolly (picture) et al, among a group with bondage and sadomasochistic interests (BDSM) showed that

“no evidence was found to support the notion that clinical disorders – including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsion – are more prevalent among the sample of individuals with BDSM interests than among members of the general population. Moreover, this sample did not show evidence of widespread PTSD, trauma-related phenomena, personality disturbances, psychological sadism or psychological masochism”, disorders in which the sufferer either derives pleasure out of genuine cruelty (not the play-acting kind) or compulsively seeks out harmful levels of pain. ”Similarly, no prominent themes were found in a series of profile analyses.”

”There were, however, som exceptions to this general pattern, most notably the higher-than-average levels of nonspecific dissociative symptoms and narcissism in this sample. That said, this body of findings suggests that, contrary to longstanding assumptions in the psychoanalytic literature, there is very little support for the view that psychopathology underlies behavior.”

Connolly, P.H.; Haley, H.; Gendelman, J.; Miller, J. (2006). Psychological functioning of bondage/domination/sado-masochism practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 18(1), 79-120.
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1300/J056v18n01_05

Richters et al 2005:

A survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews with 20,000 Australian men and women, showed that BDSM may actually make men happier. Men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological wellbeing than other men.

BDSM’ers were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse or coercion or anxiety than other Australians.

– This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we’re not sure why, said Dr. Juliet Richters (picture), of the University of New South Wales. “It might just be that they’re more in harmony with themselves because they’re into something unusual and are comfortable with that. There’s a lot to be said for accepting who you are.”

Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore “dysfunctional”.

Richters, J., & Rissel, C. (2005). Doing it down under: The sexual lives of Australians. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/kinky-you-cant-beat-it/2007/04/16/1176696736407.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,266344,00.html

Martins & Ceccarelli (2003):

A study, presented at the 16th World Congress of Sexology in Cuba 10-14 March, 2003, suggests that non-conventional sexual practices cannot be used as a diagnosed criteria of any kind, which means that the only aspect that distinguishes these individuals from others is their sexual practices.

Picture: Maria Cristina Martins, Clinical Psychologist and Specialist in Human Sexuality. Campinas, SP, Brazil and Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, PhD in Psycopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII, Paris, France.

www.revisef65.org/cuba1.html

Earlier studies:

According to Moser (1999), limited earlier studies show no differences in psychopathology between the S/M group and the control group. Gosselin & Wilson (1980), Miale (1986), Moser (1979).
http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/SM.htm#S/M_PRACT
C. Moser C. (1999). The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). S. Wright, ed., SM Classics, New York, Masquerade Books 1999, p. 47-61.

Gosselin, C, & Wilson, G. (1980). Sexual variations. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Miale, J. P. (1986). An initial study of nonclinical practitioners of sexual sadomasochism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, the Professional School of Psychological Studies, San Diego.
Moser, C. (1979). An exploratory-descriptive study of a self-defined S/M (sadomasochistic) sample. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco.

SM as a sexual orientation

Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation.
http://members.aol.com/NOWSM/Psychiatrists.html

Oslopride 2010

Fetish/SM/Leather pictures from The Christopher Street Day Parade in Oslo 2010

Fra Rådhusplassen etter paradens avslutning. Utsnitt av de to bildene fra Rådhustrappa nederst til høyre på siden.

Gay and straight fetish and SM people celebrated that they have been taken off the sick list in Norway. Click on the pictures for bigger versions.
Still it is necessary for people to hide their SM and fetish identity in Norway.

Spent stemning i Platous gate på Grønland før avmarsj kl 13. Det er ikke alle yrkesgrupper det er mulig for å være åpen fetisjist eller SM-er. Foto: Bloodykiss. Klikk på bildene for større versjon.

For første gang var starten av paraden lagt over multikulturelle Grønland der det også bor mange homofile og lesbiske. Her er fetisj/sm-seksjonen nettopp kommet inn i Grønlandsleiret med masse tilskuere langsmed paraderuten.
Klikk på bildet for større versjon.

For the first time in history, the CSD parade in Oslo started in the multietnic urban area Grønland.

Click on the picture for bigger version.

Både fetisj og SM:
Det var en fin blanding av fetisjtøy og vanlige klær. Siste bilde tatt av bloodykiss. Klikk på bildene for å se større versjoner.

Her er fetisj/sm-seksjonen kommet til byens paradegate Karl Johan:

Arrangører av fetisj/sm-seksjonen var SMia, SMil, SLM og Diagnoseutvalget Revise F65. People were encouraged to hold hands to celebrate that fetish and sm diagnoses are removed in Norway by February 1, 2010.

Click on the pictures for bigger versions.

Arrangørene oppfordret folk til å holde hender for å feire den norske friskmeldingen 1.2.2010. Blå skjorte i midten av bildet er leder i Diagnoseutvalget Revise F65 Svein Skeid.


Flere bilder fra fetisj/sm-seksjonen.

Begge foto: bloodykiss

Bildene er klikkbare for å se større oppløsning.


 

Flere bilder fra fetisj/sm-seksjonen.

Begge foto: bloodykiss

Bildene er klikkbare for større oppløsning.


English
summary


During the Christopher Street Day Parade in Oslo June 26, 2010, Gay and Straight fetish and BDSM organizations celebrated that fetishism and sadomasochism are no longer diseases in Norway.


“Taken off the sick list Feb 1, 2010”
Her passerer fetisj/sm-seksjonen Asylet på Grønland. I bakgrunnen øverst til høyre ser du høyblokkene på Enerhaugen, også kalt “Gay Towers” på homsemunne. Foto: Bloodykiss. Klikk på bildet for å se en større versjon.

Les mer om den norske friskmeldingen her.

Read how the fetish and SM diagnoses were deleted in Norway February 1, 2010.

Flere paradebilder fra Dagbladet, NRK, Aftenposten, Blikk, Gaysir og Tv2-nyhetene.
Klikk på minibildene for å se artikkel/bilder/video:


VGTV:
“Det var knyttet en viss spenning til at paraden av homofile, transseksuelle og sadomasochister skulle passere gjennom et strøk der det har forekommet angrep på homofile par de siste årene. Men noe muslimsk moralpoliti var ikke å se.”

Click on the small pictures above to see media pics and videoes from the CSD-parade in Oslo 2010.


En fargerik forsamling som jublet over friskmeldingen på Rådhustrappa etter paraden.

Colorful leather/fetish/SM people celebrating being taken off the sick list. Picture in front of the City Hall after the CSD parade in Oslo June 26, 2010.

Click on the picture for a bigger version.


Oppstilling på Rådhustrappa etter paraden. Jeg talte på et tidspunkt 34 deltagere i fetisj/sm-seksjonen. Det kan ha vært enda flere ettersom folk gikk ut og inn av seksjonen. I alt gikk 4-5000 tusen i paraden og 50.000 sto langs ruten og så på.

Klikk på bildet for større versjon.

Folsom Europe 2010

1. Leather and Uniform Fetish

Reducing prejudices

The Folsom Europe Street Fair has three goals:
– The strengthening of the leather and fetish scene.
– the increase of their visibility in the public in order to reduce prejudices, and
– the support of charitable associations and organisations in Europe taking care of people with hiv and aids.
Folsom Europe is a peaceful and friendly meeting of this scene and its friends. Women and men from around the world meet each other, to help others and also, in order to advertise for more acknowledgment and respect for her/its/their way of life.

2. Rubber men

Rubber men are an important part of the leather community.This year the Folsom Europe was arranged with a detailed program from September 1 to September 6, 2010. Folsom Europe is the only festival of its kind in Europe.

3. SM and bondage are visual parts of the Folsom Street Fair

The 7th Folsom Europe Street Fair was arranged on Saturday September 4 on Fuggerstrass/Welserstrasse in Berlin Schöneberg between noon and 9 p.m. More than 20.000 people participated at the street fair according to the police´s estimation and over 5000 at the two Folsom parties PERVERTS and PIG (2008 numbers).

4. Roleplay during the Folsom Street fair

Folsom Europe is organized in a charity which means that the majority of the money goes to beneficiaries, especially to supportpreventative work in the area of hiv and aids. At the entrances of the street fair the Sister Of Perpetual Indulgence (picture right) ask for donations.

5. Safe, Sane, Consensual: Lesbian/Kinky lovers

Under the motto Safe, Sane and Consensual, the Women, Trans, Inter, Lesbian community participated during Folsom Europe.

6. Transgender IML Winner Breaks Barriers and Makes History

International Mr. Leather 2010, Tyler McCormick (picture), visited Folsom Europe 2010. Here he is interviewed during the Street Fair on Saturday 4, 2010. Tyler McCormick, Mr. Rio Grande Leather of New Mexico, was named International Mr. Leather at the 32nd Anniversary IML Competition in Chicago May 30, 2010. McCormick, a female-to-male transgender man who uses a wheelchair, bested a field of 50 contestants, from across the U.S. and around the world.

SM and fetish off the Norwegian sick list

Fetish and SM no longer diseases in Norway

The Norwegian Directorate of Health announced February 1, 2010, that the diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, Sadomasochism, Multiple disorders of sexual preference and dual-role transvestism, have been repealed from Norway’s official list of medical diagnoses by 1.02.10.

Picture: Revise F65 celebrates the victory February 6, 2010: In front: Svein Skeid (leader). Behind from left: Kai T. Støyva, Ann Kristin Tangerud, Rolf Østvik, Anita Nyholt og psychologist Odd Reiersøl.

What follows is translated to English from the Norwegian Directorate of
Health’s website February 1st 2010 by psychologist Odd Reiersøl (URL to the websites updated November 27, 2011 by the Directorate of Health):

The Norwegian Directorate of Health takes sexual minorities off the sick list

[01.02.2010: Bente Steinnes] The Norwegian Directorate of Health has decided that certain diagnostic codes are now invalid in Norway, thus changing the Norwegian version of the international diagnoses register (ICD-10).

The following diagnoses are taken out: fetishism, fetishistic transvestism, sadomasochism, multiple disorders of sexual preference, and transvestism.

Sexual preferences, sexual identities and gender expressions

– In our opinion there is no basis, neither in today’s societal norms nor in professional health thinking, to classify these diagnostic groups as disease, says head of the Health Directorate Bjørn-Inge Larsen (picture). By excluding the use of these codes in Norway the Directorate wishes to contribute to the weakening of a general opinion that certain sexual preferences, sexual identities and gender expressions may be seen as states of illness.
We want to avoid stigmatizing

The Directorate of Health gives considerable emphasis to the fact that several interest organizations as well as health professionals from various environments have for a long time presented knowledge that these diagnoses in and of themselves, are experienced by many people as offensive and that they contribute to stigmatizing both groups and individuals.

The diagnoses mentioned are outdated and not at the level of the scientific standards that otherwise characterizes the international diagnostic manual (ICD-10).

There have been no essential changes to these diagnoses for over one hundred years. They came into being as a result of theories based on the current knowledge and viewpoints on human sexuality in society of those long gone days. At best these diagnoses, are completely superfluous. At worst they are stigmatizing minority groups in society.

These diagnoses are not useful to the health care system

The main objective of the classification of illnesses and health problems is to enable clear and comparable statistics describing the health care assistance to patients in contact with the health care system. The diagnoses which are now deleted are very seldom reported, and are therefore of minor relevance as a basis for the contents of the Norwegian Patience Register.

The decision applies as of February 1st 2010, and the code register will be updated as soon as practically possible.

By making this revision Norway has now joined Denmark and Sweden which made similar revisions in 1995 and 2009 respectively. The World Health Organization, WHO, is currently working on a new version of the diagnostic manual: ICD-11. As all the Scandinavian countries have now abolished the diagnoses for use at the respective national levels, this will be a significant professional and health political signal to WHO in the compilation process of the ICD-11.

The diagnoses of Transsexualism remain unchanged

The diagnoses that cover transsexualism among adults and children (F64.0 and F64.2) are not affected by this revision. Concrete treatment offers are available to these groups. In 2010 the Directorate of Health shall investigate the treatment options which are available to transsexuals and transpersons, and evaluate possible improvements. In that connection it will be reasonable to evaluate the diagnostic criteria and how they are being used.

ICD Revision White Paper

Oslo, Norway, September 24, 2009
Dead links updated November 22, 2011

ICD Revision White Paper to WHO from Revise F65
(
Revise F65’s first report to WHO)

By Cand. Psychol Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid
Proposal to the ICD-11 Revision of Chapter V, Mental and Behavioural Disorders, F65 and F64.

Invitation from WHO to Revise F65

We want to thank classification coordinator Dr. T. Bedirhan Üstün M.D. at WHO in Geneva for inviting Revise F65 to collaborate with the work leading up to the ICD-11 revision.

In an email of May 7, 2007, Dr. Üstün wrote:
“The revision process of ICD from 10 to 11 is about to start and will be revised for the 11th version tentatively in 2015. The revision work will include special attention to Chapter V Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99). Thanks for your interest in the ICD work and we hope to collaborate with you in the revision process.”
T. Bedirhan Üstün, M.D., Coordinator, Classifications, Assessment and Terminology, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Revise F65 was formally established in Norway in 1997 with the purpose to abolish the SM and fetish diagnoses in the F65 category of the ICD.  Among the Revise F65 members are health care professionals and human rights activists. During these years, articles have been published and presentations have been given (1,2,3,4,5).

In our opinion the following four ICD diagnoses should be abolished:

  • F65.0 Fetishism
  • F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
  • F65.5 Sadomasochism
  • F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference

In addition the F64.1 Dual-role transvestism diagnosis should be abolished.


Health political and professional arguments for the human rights reform

In our opinion the five above mentioned diagnoses should be repealed because they are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing. The article by Reiersøl and Skeid in “Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures” (1) gives thorough argumentation for removing the F65.0, F65.1 and the F65.5 diagnoses.

As the F65.6 diagnosis combines several diagnoses including the three above mentioned, it should also be removed. The F64.1 diagnosis is a bit special in the sense that it is classified as a gender identity disorder type diagnosis, but it is very similar to the F65.1. A separate section describes the issue in more detail.

 

Health political arguments

The diagnoses were repealed at a national level in Sweden January 1, 2009 (6,7). The Dual-role transvestism and the SM diagnoses were repealed in Denmark respectively August 19, 1994 and May 1, 1995 (8). The health authorities in these two countries cited in their reasoning; health political, health promoting and human rights arguments.

The Swedish board of health used the following phrases:

  • “not perverse” (7,9,10)
  • “not illness” (7,9,11)
  • “private matters” (7,9)
  • “citizens entitled to equal rights” (9)
  • “no reinforcement of prejudices” (7,9,11,12)
  • “from earlier times in history” (7,9)
  • “risk of social stigmatizing” (11,12)
  • “entitled to self confidence in the same way as homosexuals” (9)

Private matter

The Danish decision was made by the health minister, Yvonne Herløv Andersen, referring to this type of sexual preference as a private matter that has nothing to do with society (8).

The newspaper Dagens Nyheter November 16, 2008 quoted the head of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), Lars-Erik Holm: “Society has nothing to do with the sexual preferences of these individuals” (7,9).

According to Nettavisen November 17, 2008 the head of the Norwegian Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet), Bjørn-Inge Larsen, said: “There is no basis, neither within today’s social norms nor within health political thinking, for labeling several of these phenomena as illnesses” (10).

Stigmatizing

The Swedish revision was done because these psychiatric diagnoses “may contribute to preserve and reinforce prejudices in society, which in turn increases the risk of social stigmatizing of individuals” (11).

“The abolition of  the diagnosis of homosexuality I believe to a certain extent has contributed to a different view than in the 60’s and 70’s of homosexuals in the general population. The abolition gave the homosexuals self confidence because they no longer have a psychiatric stigma. We hope that the current revision will give a similar result”, said  the head of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), Lars-Erik Holm (9).

In a press release NCSF, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, applauds the Swedish decision, and says:

“We know from the hundreds of requests for help that NCSF gets every year through our Incident Response program that the Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism diagnoses in the DSM reinforce the negative stereotypes and stigma against alternative sexual behaviors.” (13)

The Norwegian Directorate of Health has since 1996 as a goal to work for counteracting the stigmatizing of sexual minorities (14).

The strategy plan for prevention of HIV and STD points out “the danger of stigmatizing and discriminating against vulnerable groups when doing  preventive work, and the importance of a holistic approach to sexual identity, sexual health and sexual behavior” (15) (pdf file).

Preventative measures

In our opinion, outdated and non scientific diagnoses such as these, constitute an infringement of the human rights of the minorities that are described, and they hinder prophylactic health care efforts that are needed in these groups of people. Deleting the diagnoses may strengthen the “identity building” of the SM/fetish population and contribute positively to the “collective self respect” which is necessary for reaching the group with preventative measures like HIV and STD prevention.

According to Norwegian health authorities “A person’s possibility for self protection against a virus that is sexually transmitted is only to a certain extent influenced by knowledge. The feeling of self value necessary for demanding or having a wish to protect oneself is influenced by societal factors, and only a few of these factors are under the control of the health authorities. We emphasize that the cooperation with marginalized and vulnerable groups has an influence on what could be called a collective self respect” (16).

The Norwegian health authorities have taken an active interest in improving the self respect and the identity of the SM group, to increase the ability of protection against sexually transmitted diseases (17).

Discrimination

For many people, SM and fetishism is more than just behavior, it is part of their sexual orientation and identity (23). In our opinion, stigmatizing minorities by considering their personal orientation as a psychiatric condition is as disrespectful as discriminating against people because of their race, ethnicity or religion.

Like the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality that is no longer applied by the WHO, the SM and Fetish diagnoses are rarely used for therapeutic purposes. Instead, these definitions are abused to justify harassment and discrimination of the SM/fetish population from laymen and judicial institutions.

Much of the discrimination is directly or indirectly a result of the diagnoses. A psychiatric diagnosis may have a major influence on a person’s possibility of getting work and on the evaluation of a person’s ability to raise children, for example after a divorce.

As with other forms of abuse, women are the main sufferers, losing their jobs, or even their children, because of their SM/fetish love, lifestyle and self-expression (18).

The Norwegian National LGBT Association (LLH) and the National coalition for sexual freedom (NCSF), have published respectively a case study and a survey indicating the stigmatizing function of the F65 diagnoses and that these diagnoses legitimize discrimination (18,13,19).

By repealing the diagnoses, the sexual minorities in question may breathe a bit more easily and be less afraid of private and public discrimination.

In a letter of June 11, 2003 to Revise F65, the Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology says:  “The Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology in its support wishes to emphasize that the use of psychiatric diagnoses in relation to homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual fetishists, sadomasochists and transvestic fetishists is stigmatizing and therefore an encroachment upon this group as a whole”.

Safe, sane and consensual

There is no reason to doubt that the SM movement has  “grown up” and taken responsibility over the last 20-30 years, by establishing safe words, security routines, pride symbols and normative measures like the internationally recognized moral and ethical principle “Safe, sane and consensual”. As opposed to dangerous perpetration, SM activities are mutually wanted and consensual activities that produce health promoting and pleasurable hormones (20,21,22,23,38).

 

 

Dead links updated November 22, 2011

Lack of homogeneity

Chapter F65 does not represent a homogeneous totality. Different diagnoses without any logical connection are combined in an unclear and non scientific way only because they are “unusual” phenomena.

The diagnoses are superfluous

Any psychiatric condition that members of the group may suffer from is as for the rest of the population covered by the other, non paraphilic, diagnoses as for example depression, OCD, anxiety disorders, personality disorders or psychoses.

If for example a person is preoccupied with her fetish to the extent that it becomes a problem in her daily life, she could for example become diagnosed with an obsessive compulsive disorder.

When homosexuality was removed as a diagnosis in 1977, the Norwegian Psychiatric Association stated that they were “doubtful towards the application of psychiatric diagnoses on isolated aspects of behavior”. A person showing a particular behavior is not diagnosed according to that behavior, but on the basis of a set of symptoms. “Ideally speaking, psychiatric diagnoses should be related to causal connections in a wider perspective, a broader aspect of suffering, reduced social functioning and/or a desire for treatment”, they stated.

Sleeping diagnoses

As for the former homosexuality diagnosis, the fetish and SM diagnoses are virtually not being used by the medical profession today, at least not in Norway. They are not being used to treat people’s illnesses.

  • “The main objective of diagnosis is patient care”. (IGDA workgroup WPA 2003; The WPA International Guidelines for Diagnostic Assessment by the World Psychiatric Association 2003). 
  • In a letter to the SM organization Smil-Norway of Desember 19, 2008 the health authorities inform that “None of the diagnostic codes in question were reported to the Norwegian Patient Register in 2007 or 2008. This gives a strong indication that the codes are not in use”. 
  • The Norwegian Directorate of Health informs the medical publication “Dagens Medisin” that according  to the Norwegian Patient Register the diagnostic codes in question were not used last year, i.e. in 2007 (24). 
  • Senior counselor, Arild Johan Myrberg at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, reported that it was difficult to find any health care professional in Norway that was willing to defend the diagnoses (25).

The only function of the diagnoses, in our opinion, is to stigmatize a subpopulation and to make discrimination legitimate. That contradicts the hippocratic ethics of the medical profession not to harm (26).

Science and prejudice

Psychiatry otherwise usually regards people as healthy as long as there is no evidence of psychopathology. International research shows the same tendency whether the surveys are qualitative or quantitative, whether they are performed by telephone, on the Internet or by personal interview: Sadomasochists have no more psychiatric problems or disorders than others(22).

In our opinion, diagnoses of fetishism and SM should be based on a scientific foundation, not on cultural prejudices.

Is being different an illness?

In our opinion the following criterion, G1, labeling people as ill, is unclear, judgmental and unscientific: “[]urges and fantasies involving unusual objects or activities” (27).

Fetishists and SM-people represent a group of perhaps 5-10 percent of the population and is increasingly considered a normal variation in society (28).

“Unusual” sexual interests are commonly found in the general population (29).

An important question: Is  “unusual” meant as a statistical or a normative concept? In earlier days several sexual practices were regarded as abnormal, for example homosexuality, masturbation, oral and anal sex. Extreme sports and religious flagellation may also be regarded as unusual. But so far neither  base jumpers or bullfighters nor flagellators have been labeled perverse (1).

Sick without intercourse?

In the HIV preventative efforts in Norway, non penetrating fetish and SM sex is regarded as one possible way  to reduce contagion in the target group. This stands in opposition to the ICD-10 where lack of intercourse is one main argument for labeling fetishism as pathological.

“Fetishistic fantasies are common, buy they do not amount to a disorder unless they lead to rituals that are so compelling and unacceptable as to interfere with sexual intercourse[….]”(ICD-10, F65.0 Fetishism).

Perhaps the World Health Organization should start looking at non penetrating sex as one of several ways to stop the HIV epidemic and the population explosion?

“These diagnoses are rooted in a time when everything other than the heterosexual missionary position were seen as sexual perversions”. Head of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), Lars-Erik Holm (7).

Confusing SM with violence

Any kind of sexuality may be perverted, not the least “normal” heterosexual activity, if it is not based on equality and consent.

Violence is usually understood  as use of physical force, and there must also be a lack of consent and a wish to do harm.

ICD-10 does not distinguish between consensual SM and harmful violence. This non distinction stands in opposition to modern research and contributes to maintaining the stigma towards that group of people.

“Sexual sadism is sometimes difficult to distinguish from cruelty in sexual situations or anger related to eroticism. Where violence is necessary for erotic arousal, the diagnosis can be clearly established” (Chapter F65.5 Sadomasochism).

  • In a survey from 2003, professor in psychology Pamela Conolly found that SM masters do not experience greater pleasure during non consensual cruelty than do the control group of non SM people, and the masochists did not seek compulsive or harmful forms of pain (22).
  • This finding is corroborated by the psychologists Cross and Matheson in their research from 2006. They found no evidence for contentions about antisocial, psychopathic or violent SM sadists (22).
  • John Noyes goes even further and says that SM may even contribute to the reduction of societal violence: “As a staged aggression, [sadomasochism] may even be in a position to defuse social violence and to put forward alternative and socially viable models of coping with aggression in a manner that minimizes its negative effects.” (30)

See also: “SM versus abuse” (21)

Psychological stress

Another main criterion for chapter F65 is the G2:

“The individual either acts on the urges or is markedly distressed by them”. The concept of “distress” also appears under “F65.0 Fetishism”.

The criterion does not take into account updated knowledge on stigma. Stigmatization by society causes self stigmatization, guilt, shame and psychological distress in minority groups (31). It is not necessarily the SM or fetish activity in and of itself that is problematic.

The American DSM manual in 1994 introduced a B-criterion which states that fetishists or SM people are not ill unless the activities cause significant psychological, physical or social problems.

“The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (32).

The DSM-IV revision, in 1994, was seen as a step forward, but is far from satisfactory. Stigma knowledge shows that many psychological, physical and social problems are not caused by the individual afflicted, but by taboos, prejudices, and discrimination imposed by the environment(33). See also “DSM Revision White Paper” (29).

The dual-role transvestism diagnosis

Although the F64.1 diagnoses is not within the F65 category, we find it logical to include it in the list of  diagnoses we want to repeal. It resembles the F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism. The main difference seems to be that there is no sexual excitement involved in the F64.1. In our opinion it is just as discriminating and stigmatizing as the F65 diagnoses, so the general arguments for removing the F65 diagnoses also apply to the F64.1.

Modern gender research shows that there is no longer any basis for claiming only two genders.  In later years individuals have presented with gender variations beyond woman and man, and these individuals are not confused, even though they may confuse people around them (34). A few people, on the other hand, may suffer from gender dysphoria. These people may need medical attention and intervention, and the basis for that should be covered, if not in the other F64 categories, then certainly somewhere in the diagnostic system. Another interesting fact is that there is no transvestism diagnosis under Gender Identity Disorders in the DSM IV. This supports our contention that the phenomenon of “transvestism” is not something to diagnose.

Cooperation between DSM and ICD

We understand that there is substantial cooperation between revisions in the American DSM and revisions in the ICD. In that context we would like to point out the NCSF website (29) which has references to among others Charles Moser who has written several articles about the DSM paraphilia diagnoses over the last years (35,36,37,23,38).

 

Sincerely,

Revise F65

Svein Skeid (leader)                         Odd Reiersøl (psychologist)

 

 

 

Dead links updated November 22, 2011

Footnote 1.

Reiersol O. & Skeid S. (2006). The ICD Diagnoses of Fetishism and Sadomasochism.  In P.J. Kleinplatz and C. Moser (Eds.). Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures (pp. 243-262). Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://books.google.no/books?id=iHkT5Eyj7H0C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Published simultaniously in The Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 50, Issue 2&3, May 2006, pages 243-262. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.haworthpress.com/store/ArticleAbstract.asp?sid=M6XM7W1WEHBQ8K7CX9SA3CDGU3SU9LUB&ID=65910

Footnote 2.

Fetisj og SM-diagnosene i ICD-10 [The Fetish and SM Diagnoses in ICD-10]. (2008, June). Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening [Journal of the Norwegian Psychological Association, Vol 45]. Pp 754-756. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.psykologtidsskriftet.no/index.php?seks_id=52392&a=2&sok=1

Footnote 3.

Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.reviseF65.org

Footnote 4.

Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReviseF65

Footnote 5.

About the ReviseF65 project. Professional and health political work 1994-2009. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/aboutrevisef65.html

Footnote 6.

Fetish and SM diagnoses deleted in Sweden. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/Sweden.html

Footnote 7.

Transvestism ‘no longer a disease’ in Sweden (2008, November 17). The Local. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.thelocal.se/15728/20081117/

Footnote 8.

Denmark withdraws SM from Diagnosis-list (1995, April 1). Politiken, page A7. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/denmark.html

Footnote 9.

Nu ska Sara-Claes slippa bli stämplad som sjuk [Sara-Claes will not any longer be stigmatizised as sick]. (2008, November 16). Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/nu-ska-sara-claes-slippa-bli-stamplad-som-sjuk

Footnote 10.

Dette er ikke perverst lenger [This is not any longer perverse]. (2008, November 17). Nettavisen. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.nettavisen.no/jobb/article2402153.ece

Footnote 11.

Koder i klassifikationen av sjukdomar och hälsoproblem utgår [Codes in the Classification of Diseases are removed]. (2008, November 17). Socialstyrelsen [The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare]. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.revisef65.org/socialstyrelsen.html

Footnote 12.

Så blev transvestiter friska över en natt! [Transvestites taken off the sick list overnight]. (2008, November 17). QX. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.qx.se/samhalle/8544/sa-blev-transvestiter-friska-over-en-natt

Footnote 13.

Sweden takes sexual behaviors off their disease list. (2008, November 25). NCSF, National coalition for sexual freedom. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/dsm-v-revision-project/dsm-v-program-page/item/316-press-release-sweeden-takes-sexual-behaviors-off-their-disease-list.html

Footnote 14.

Norwegian health authorities about healt preventive work. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/forebyggende.html

Footnote 15.

Ansvar og omtanke – Strategiplan for forebygging av hiv og soi [Responsibility and consideration – Norwegian national strategy plan to prevent hiv and sexually transmitted infections]. Helsedirektoratet [The Norwegian National Board of Health]. Pp. 3, 3, 13, 21, 26 and 40. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.helsedirektoratet.no/vp/multimedia/archive/00002/Ansvar_og_omtanke_2200a.pdf

Footnote 16.

Handlingsplan mot hiv/aids-epidemien 1996-2000 [Norwegian national strategy plan to prevent HIV and STD 1996-2000]. Helsedirektoratet [The Norwegian National Board of Health]. Pp 25 and 33.

Footnote 17.

Tilskuddsbrev til fetisj & SM gruppen SMia-Oslo fra Sosial- og helsedirektoratet via kap. 719 post 70 [Letter to the Fetish & SM group SMia-Oslo from The Norwegian National Board of Health]. (2002, April 25).

Footnote 18.

Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population. Revise F65. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/discrimination.html

Footnote 19.

NCSF’s Violence and Discrimination Survey. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttps://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/452-ncsfs-violence-and-discrimination-survey.html

Footnote 20.

Safe, sane, and consensual as a moral ethical principle and cornerstone of SM acticity. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.revisef65.org/sikker.html

Footnote 21.

SM versus abuse. Revise F65. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.revisef65.org/violence.html

Footnote 22.

No more psychopathology among SM-people. Revise F65. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/psychopathology.html

Footnote 23.

Sexual Freedom NOW. Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.revisef65.org/NOWSM.html

Footnote 24.

Transvestittisme og SM ikke lenger en sykdom i Sverige [Transvestism and SM are no longer diseases in Sweden]. (2008, November 17). Dagens Medisin [Medicine Today]. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.dagensmedisin.no//nyheter/2008/11/17/transvetittisme-ikke-lenge/index.xml

Footnote 25.

Meeting at the Norwegian National Board of Health, May 11, 2009.

Footnote 26.

The Hippocratic Oath. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath

Footnote 27.

World Health Organization (1992). The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders. Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva, Switzerland.

World Health Organization (1993). The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders. Diagnostic criteria for research. Geneva, Switzerland.

Footnote 28.

Quantity of the sm/fetish-population. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.revisef65.org/antall_eng.html

Footnote 29.

DSM Revision White Paper. NCSF, National coalition for sexual freedom. Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttps://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/dsm-v-revision-project/dsm-revision-white-paper.html

Footnote 30.

Noyes, J. K., Ph.D. (1997). The mastery of submission: Inventions of masochism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, page 30.

Footnote 31.

Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall.

Footnote 32.

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington DC.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., Text Revised). Washington DC.

Footnote 33.

About The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.revisef65.org/DSM.html

Footnote 34.

Heino Meyer Bahlburg: Presentation at the WAS (World Association for Sexual Health) conference in Goteborg, June 2009.

Footnote 35.

Moser, Charles & Kleinplatz, Peggy J. (2005). DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality (2005), 17(3/4), 91-109. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/GESUND/ARCHIV/MoserKleinplatz.htm

Footnote 36.

Moser, C. & Kleinplatz, P.J. (2002). Transvestic fetishism: Psychopathology or iatrogenic artifact? New Jersey Psychologist, 52(2) 16-17. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://home.netcom.com/%7edocx2/tf.html

Footnote 37.

Moser, C. (1999). The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). In S. Wright (Ed.) SM Classics (pp. 47-61). New York, Masquerade Books. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/SM.htm#S/M_PRACT

Footnote 38.

Moser, C. & Wright S.. What is SM? Retrieved September 19, 2009, fromhttp://www.leatherleadership.org/library/whatsm.htm

 

ICD Revision White Paper

Oslo, Norway, September 24, 2009
Dead links updated November 22, 2011

ICD Revision White Paper to WHO from Revise F65
(
Revise F65’s first report to WHO)

By Cand. Psychol Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid
Proposal to the ICD-11 Revision of Chapter V, Mental and Behavioural Disorders, F65 and F64.

Invitation from WHO to Revise F65

We want to thank classification coordinator Dr. T. Bedirhan Üstün M.D. at WHO in Geneva for inviting Revise F65 to collaborate with the work leading up to the ICD-11 revision.

In an email of May 7, 2007, Dr. Üstün wrote:
“The revision process of ICD from 10 to 11 is about to start and will be revised for the 11th version tentatively in 2015. The revision work will include special attention to Chapter V Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99). Thanks for your interest in the ICD work and we hope to collaborate with you in the revision process.”
T. Bedirhan Üstün, M.D., Coordinator, Classifications, Assessment and Terminology, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Revise F65 was formally established in Norway in 1997 with the purpose to abolish the SM and fetish diagnoses in the F65 category of the ICD.  Among the Revise F65 members are health care professionals and human rights activists. During these years, articles have been published and presentations have been given (1,2,3,4,5).

In our opinion the following four ICD diagnoses should be abolished:

  • F65.0 Fetishism
  • F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
  • F65.5 Sadomasochism
  • F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference

In addition the F64.1 Dual-role transvestism diagnosis should be abolished.


Health political and professional arguments for the human rights reform

In our opinion the five above mentioned diagnoses should be repealed because they are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing. The article by Reiersøl and Skeid in “Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures” (1) gives thorough argumentation for removing the F65.0, F65.1 and the F65.5 diagnoses.

As the F65.6 diagnosis combines several diagnoses including the three above mentioned, it should also be removed. The F64.1 diagnosis is a bit special in the sense that it is classified as a gender identity disorder type diagnosis, but it is very similar to the F65.1. A separate section describes the issue in more detail.

 

Health political arguments

The diagnoses were repealed at a national level in Sweden January 1, 2009 (6,7). The Dual-role transvestism and the SM diagnoses were repealed in Denmark respectively August 19, 1994 and May 1, 1995 (8). The health authorities in these two countries cited in their reasoning; health political, health promoting and human rights arguments.

The Swedish board of health used the following phrases:

  • “not perverse” (7,9,10)
  • “not illness” (7,9,11)
  • “private matters” (7,9)
  • “citizens entitled to equal rights” (9)
  • “no reinforcement of prejudices” (7,9,11,12)
  • “from earlier times in history” (7,9)
  • “risk of social stigmatizing” (11,12)
  • “entitled to self confidence in the same way as homosexuals” (9)

Private matter

The Danish decision was made by the health minister, Yvonne Herløv Andersen, referring to this type of sexual preference as a private matter that has nothing to do with society (8).

The newspaper Dagens Nyheter November 16, 2008 quoted the head of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), Lars-Erik Holm: “Society has nothing to do with the sexual preferences of these individuals” (7,9).

According to Nettavisen November 17, 2008 the head of the Norwegian Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet), Bjørn-Inge Larsen, said: “There is no basis, neither within today’s social norms nor within health political thinking, for labeling several of these phenomena as illnesses” (10).

Stigmatizing

The Swedish revision was done because these psychiatric diagnoses “may contribute to preserve and reinforce prejudices in society, which in turn increases the risk of social stigmatizing of individuals” (11).

“The abolition of  the diagnosis of homosexuality I believe to a certain extent has contributed to a different view than in the 60’s and 70’s of homosexuals in the general population. The abolition gave the homosexuals self confidence because they no longer have a psychiatric stigma. We hope that the current revision will give a similar result”, said  the head of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), Lars-Erik Holm (9).

In a press release NCSF, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, applauds the Swedish decision, and says:

“We know from the hundreds of requests for help that NCSF gets every year through our Incident Response program that the Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism diagnoses in the DSM reinforce the negative stereotypes and stigma against alternative sexual behaviors.” (13)

The Norwegian Directorate of Health has since 1996 as a goal to work for counteracting the stigmatizing of sexual minorities (14).

The strategy plan for prevention of HIV and STD points out “the danger of stigmatizing and discriminating against vulnerable groups when doing  preventive work, and the importance of a holistic approach to sexual identity, sexual health and sexual behavior” (15) (pdf file).

Preventative measures

In our opinion, outdated and non scientific diagnoses such as these, constitute an infringement of the human rights of the minorities that are described, and they hinder prophylactic health care efforts that are needed in these groups of people. Deleting the diagnoses may strengthen the “identity building” of the SM/fetish population and contribute positively to the “collective self respect” which is necessary for reaching the group with preventative measures like HIV and STD prevention.

According to Norwegian health authorities “A person’s possibility for self protection against a virus that is sexually transmitted is only to a certain extent influenced by knowledge. The feeling of self value necessary for demanding or having a wish to protect oneself is influenced by societal factors, and only a few of these factors are under the control of the health authorities. We emphasize that the cooperation with marginalized and vulnerable groups has an influence on what could be called a collective self respect” (16).

The Norwegian health authorities have taken an active interest in improving the self respect and the identity of the SM group, to increase the ability of protection against sexually transmitted diseases (17).

Discrimination

For many people, SM and fetishism is more than just behavior, it is part of their sexual orientation and identity (23). In our opinion, stigmatizing minorities by considering their personal orientation as a psychiatric condition is as disrespectful as discriminating against people because of their race, ethnicity or religion.

Like the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality that is no longer applied by the WHO, the SM and Fetish diagnoses are rarely used for therapeutic purposes. Instead, these definitions are abused to justify harassment and discrimination of the SM/fetish population from laymen and judicial institutions.

Much of the discrimination is directly or indirectly a result of the diagnoses. A psychiatric diagnosis may have a major influence on a person’s possibility of getting work and on the evaluation of a person’s ability to raise children, for example after a divorce.

As with other forms of abuse, women are the main sufferers, losing their jobs, or even their children, because of their SM/fetish love, lifestyle and self-expression (18).

The Norwegian National LGBT Association (LLH) and the National coalition for sexual freedom (NCSF), have published respectively a case study and a survey indicating the stigmatizing function of the F65 diagnoses and that these diagnoses legitimize discrimination (18,13,19).

By repealing the diagnoses, the sexual minorities in question may breathe a bit more easily and be less afraid of private and public discrimination.

In a letter of June 11, 2003 to Revise F65, the Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology says:  “The Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology in its support wishes to emphasize that the use of psychiatric diagnoses in relation to homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual fetishists, sadomasochists and transvestic fetishists is stigmatizing and therefore an encroachment upon this group as a whole”.

Safe, sane and consensual

There is no reason to doubt that the SM movement has  “grown up” and taken responsibility over the last 20-30 years, by establishing safe words, security routines, pride symbols and normative measures like the internationally recognized moral and ethical principle “Safe, sane and consensual”. As opposed to dangerous perpetration, SM activities are mutually wanted and consensual activities that produce health promoting and pleasurable hormones (20,21,22,23,38).

Delete SM and fetish diagnoses!

Despite new research, the views of psychiatry on the subject of SM, Fetishism and Fetishistic transvestism, have hardly changed in the last 100 years.

Leather people have been considered healthy the last ten years by most researchers, by US psychiatrists, and by the health authorities of Denmark and Sweden. Despite this fact, Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism are still branded as mental illnesses by the World Health Organization (WHO), in expectation of the next revison of WHO’s diagnostic manual ICD-10. This revision is going to start fall 2009/winter 2010.

Sweden deleted their national fetish and SM diagnoses January 1, 2009. Denmark repealed Dual-role transvestism and the SM diagnoses fall 1994 and May 1995. The American Psychiatric Association, APA, considerably revised their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) spring 1994.

Like the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality that is no longer applied by the WHO, the SM and Fetish diagnoses are rarely used in clinical practice as a means to assist people. On the contrary the stigma attached to the diagnoses justifies various forms of harassment and discrimination of this sexual minority by the society. ReviseF65 can document that people are losing their jobs, the custody of their children etc., because of their SM-love, lifestyle and self-expression. Much of the discrimination is directly or indirectly a result of the diagnoses.

The Gay Movement more than 30 years ago considered it of fundamental importance to first delete the diagnosis of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), before any further major human rights improvement was possible. If a group is considered mentally ill, very few people will listen to your arguments aiming at reducing prejudice in society.

ReviseF65 apply the same judgement today. We consider unscientic and stigmatising SM and Fetish-diagnoses as possibly one of the biggest obstacles to the acceptance of our human rights. Abolishing them is a very important step in the effort to reduce prejudices towards the SM-Leather-Fetish-population.

The pansexual ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, sets focus on the lack of scientific basis for today’s diagnoses and tries to stimulate the building-up of an international activist and professional network to delete these diagnoses.

What can you do in your country?

As with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality; the more countries that drop their national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the greater is the possibility that the World Health Organization will follow suit. National ICD-diagnoses can only be abolished by groups in each country. This work must be done by the SM-Leather-Fetish-movement itself. Don’t expect anybody to fight for your freedom from such discrimination, if you don’t do it yourself.

The initiative of individuals is always very welcome, but the formation of local and national working parties would be even more effective in approaching the mental health professionals in question.

Examples of national strategies

We think that the strategy should be determined either locally or nationally, depending on the professional and political situation in each country.

  • Gain support from sexologist-, psychologist- and psychiatric-federations on a national level. Experience from the homosexual diagnoses show us that the latter organization can be the key to the national removal of diagnoses.
  • Lobby the political health administration to withdraw SM and Fetish diagnoses from the national list of psychiatric diagnoses as the Danish health minister did in 1995.
  • Spread the word about the ICD-work of ReviseF65 and make a link to the web page from your own website. To be informed and have your voice heard – join our e-mail discussion group at http://www.revisef65.org/moderator.html and inform others about it.
  • Cooperate with other gay&lesbian and fetish&SM groups to plan national strategies for the abolition of the diagnoses.

Support to the ICD project
The Revise F65 project was established on the initiative of the 1996 and 1998 National Conventions of the Norwegian National Association for Lesbian and Gay Liberation (LLH).

The 21st European Conference of ILGA in Pisa, October 1999, decided to support the Revise F65 project and ask the Board to assist by giving access to channels of information.

The General Assembly of the ECMC in Milano, August 2000 adopted a motion establishing a project group with the same mandate.

The Boards of the Norwegian Association of Gay and Lesbian Physicians HLLF (right), and the Norwegian Society for Clinical Sexology NFKS (left), decided to support the Revise F65 efforts in 2003.

Organizations involved
The Revise F65 project group consists of SM/Leather/Fetish men and women representing organizations of leather and SM gays, – lesbians, bi- and heterosexuals, as well as professionals in sexology, psychology and psychiatry.

LLH, Landsforeningen for lesbisk og homofil frigjøring – Norwegian National Association for Lesbian and Gay Liberation

SLM-Oslo, Scandinavian Leather Men, Oslo

Verkstedet Smia-Oslo

SMil Norge

Call to action

Revise F65: Annual report 2009 and a request for support

The ICD diagnoses of Fetishism, Sadomasochism and Transvestism

WHO has started the revision process of ICD from version 10 to 11. Revise F65 asks for your support.

First of all we want to thank all our friends at home and abroad for the cooperation in 2009. Not at least we thank our Swedish friends who made it possible for Sweden to remove fetish and SM diagnoses from January 1, 2009. We can assure you that the Swedish decision has made a great impression on the people responsible for the ICD revision in The World Health Organization, WHO.

WHO is now undergoing the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases, and the ICD-11 alpha draft is expected to be ready by May 10, 2010.

According to Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed, responsible for the revision of ICD-10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders at WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, substantial changes in the ICD are dependent upon broad scientific and political support.

”It will be helpful for the recommendations to come from as broad an international coalition as possible, if possible with the formal involvement or endorsement of scientific and professional societies or governments.”
Mail to Revise F65 September 25, 2009.

Revise F65 therefore asks for testimony, quoted reference and supporting evidence from psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, researchers of human sexuality and organizations world wide in order to remove Fetishism, Sadomasochism and Transvestic Fetishism as diagnoses from ICD, the International Classification of Diseases published by WHO. Such statements should be sent to Revise F65 (mail: sskeid(A)online.no), and will be forwarded by us to WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

As Dr. Reed also emphasizes, it is of great importance that as many countries as possible change their national diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism. The more countries that change their national ICD versions, the bigger is the chance that WHO will follow suit.

Denmark removed the Transvestism and Sadomasochism diagnoses from their national version of the ICD in 1994/95 http://www.revisef65.org/denmark.html

Sweden removed all their fetish and SM diagnoses 1st of January 2009  http://www.revisef65.org/Sweden.html

After several delays in 2009, the Norwegian Directorate of Health has been instructed by the Ministry of Health and Care Services to remove the diagnoses of Transvestism, Fetishism and Sadomasochism from the Norwegian version of ICD-10. “The Directorate of Health aims to bring the decision into force by February 1, 2010″, the Directorate writes in a letter to Revise F65, December 21, 2009.

Revise F65 recommends to abolish the following ICD diagnoses because they are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing.

F65.0 Fetishism

F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism

F65.5 Sadomasochism

F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference

F64.1 Dual-role transvestism

See health political and professional arguments at:

http://www.revisef65.org/icd_whitepaper.html

Regards,

Svein Skeid,

Leader of Revise F65

Examples of statements, quotes and evidence of support:

http://www.revisef65.org/europride3.html

Read our ”annual report” 2009 (included Revise F65 efforts since 1994):

http://www.revisef65.org/about3.html

Fetish and SM diagnoses deleted in Sweden

Fetishism and Sadomasochism no longer diseases in Sweden

Inspired by Revise F65, Fetishism and Sadomasochism, along with four other sexual behaviours, were repealed from Sweden’s official list of medical diagnoses January 1, 2009.

By Svein Skeid

November 17, 2008, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) announced that six diagnoses of sexual behaviours will be deleted from Sweden’s national version of ICD diagnoses. The six diagnoses include sadomasochism, fetishism, transvestism, fetishistic transvestitism, multiple disorders of sexual preferences and gender identity disorder in youth.

Except for gender identity disorder in youth, these are  the same diagnoses that Revise F65 recommend to remove from ICD, the International Classification of Diseases.

The first seed

According to RFSU secretary Wiktor Södersten, the very first seed was sowed at the RFSU congress in 2005, when he talked with the present RFSU coordinator and educator Helene Delilah about the Norwegian Revise F65 web pages.

November 23, 2006 Mika Nielsen wrote an article in the biggest gay and lesbian Swedish newspaper QX. She encouraged the Swedish sexual political movement to follow the example of the Revise F65 pioneer group and start the work to remove transvestism and BDSM-diagnoses from the ICD-10.

A working group was established after the model of Revise F65 with members from Swedish gay, lesbian and heterosexual fetish and SM groups (Club Sade, LASH, Club Sunrise, Dekadance and RFSL). Mika Nielsen wrote a new article in “Ottar”, the newspaper of RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexual Education). Once again she referred to the Norwegian Revise F65 efforts.

The RFSU winter congress in 2007 decided to work for education about fetishism and BDSM and to work for abolishment of the same diagnoses as is on the agenda of Revise F65. However, the Swedish Lesbian and Gay Organization RFSL was not willing to support this agenda in the same way as the Norwegian LGBT Association, LLH (FRI) does.

July 29, 2008. During Europride in Stockholm, the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had talks with RFSU, participated in panel discussions and gave a presentation about the Revise F65 work. We gave them our memory stick with all relevant political health arguments and scientific evidence.

Four weeks later, August 27, 2008, referring to the cooperation with Revise F65, RFSU sent a formal letter demanding the removal of fetishism and sadomasochism from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) registry of diseases.

Health political arguments

Agency head Lars-Erik Holm’s (picture) arguments for the Swedish revision announced November 17, 2008, were word by word concurrent with the health political premises of Revise F65.

http://www.revisef65.org/icd_whitepaper.html

The Swedish revision was done because these psychiatric diagnoses “may contribute to preserve and reinforce prejudices in society, which in turn increases the risk of social stigmatizing of individuals”.

“The abolition of  the diagnosis of homosexuality 30 years ago gave the group self confidence because they no longer had a psychiatric stigma. We hope that the current revision will give a similar result.”

“These diagnoses are rooted in a time when everything other than the heterosexual missionary position were seen as sexual perversions. The changes emphasize that these behaviours are not illnesses in and of themselves, nor are they something perverse. It is very important for these individual that the society acknowledge them as equal members of society“, said Lars-Erik Holm, Director General of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare.

In line with recommendations from Revise F65, other F65 diagnoses like transsexualism and pedophilia will remain as diagnoses and not be removed at a later stage. “Transsexualism needs to be left to carry out gender reassignment in health care, and pedophilia is a criminal act that harms others”, according to Lars-Erik Holm.

Victory for Revise F65

In a press release immediately after the Swedish announcement November 17, 2008, the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid characterized the decision as a victory for the fetish/SM population and for the Revise F65 strategy to motivate other countries to remove their national versions of the ICD SM/fetish diagnoses.

http://www.nettavisen.no/jobb/article2402153.ece

Revise F65 is happy to have succeeded with that strategy. Now we hope to bring about the same changes in Norway and in the World Health Organization, WHO.

The BDSM Organization SMil November 18, 2008, sent a letter to the The Ministry of Health and Care Services asking him to remove the fetish and SM diagnoses in Norway. In an answer December 19, 2008 the Ministry of Health and Care Services said they had given the Directorate of Health the responsibility of taking a decision in the case.

Positive Norwegian reactions

So far, Norwegian health authorities have responded positively to the Swedish decision.

According to Nettavisen, the head of the Norwegian Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet), Bjørn-Inge Larsen (picture), said: “There is no basis, neither within today’s social norms nor within health political thinking, for labeling several of these phenomena as illnesses”.

Senior adviser in the Directorate of Health, Arild Johan Myrberg, was also “very positive to the idea of removing the SM diagnoses in Norway”. – This is not a very relevant diagnosis and has to do with past times view of sexuality. Norway wants to follow up the professional development and looks forward to cleaning up this matter. The future objective is that the World Health Organization removes SM from their list of classifications, but this will possibly take some years, he said.

Also the prominent Norwegian sexologist and psychologist Thore Langfeldt (picture) supported the Swedish decision.

February 2, 2009, psychologist Odd Reiersøl and the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had a short meeting at the office of the Norwegian Directorate of Health where we delivered a memorandum with health political and professional arguments for why the SM and fetish diagnoses should be removed from the Norwegian ICD-edition.

http://www.revisef65.org/icd_whitepaper.html

At a meeting with the Revise F65 committee and the Norwegian Directorate of Health May 11, 2009, Senior adviser Arild Johan Myrberg informed that a decision to repeal Norwegian fetish and SM diagnoses can be announced fall 2009 with the intention to bring the decision into force January 1, 2010.

Denmark repealed the dual-role transvestism diagnosis and the SM diagnosis respectively August 19, 1994 and May 1, 1995. The American Psychiatric Association considerably revised the criterion for SM and fetish diagnoses in 1994.