Tag Archive: consent

WHO takes bdsm and fetishism off the sick list

WHO TAKES BDSM AND FETISHISM OFF THE SICK LIST

The World Health Organization (WHO) follows the Nordic countries in repealing sexual minorities with consenting practices from the International Classification of Diseases in the new ICD-11 revision. 

(Updated August 31, 2018)

RESEARCH AND HEALTH POLITICS: “Due to advances in research and clinical practice, major shifts in social attitudes and in relevant policies, and human rights standards”, the World Health Organization June 18, 2018, removes Fetishism, Transvestic Fetishism and Sadomasochism as psychiatric diagnoses.

BDSM IS NOT VIOLENCE:

Helene Delilah and Svein Skeid roleplaying getting off the WHO sick list at the stage during Europride in Stockholm August 4, 2018.

The new ICD-11 classification (for the very first time) clearly distinguishes BDSM from harmful violence, in accordance with recommendations from Revise F65.

PRIVATE BEHAVIOUR: ”From WHO’s perspective, there is an important distinction between conditions that are relevant to public health and indicate the need for health services versus those that are simply descriptions of private behaviour without appreciable public health impact and for which treatment is neither indicated nor sought.”

VARIANTS IN SEXUAL AROUSAL: The new ICD classification consider Fetishism, Fetishistic Transvestism and Sadomasochism as variants in sexual arousal.

DISCRIMINATION: Psychiatric diagnoses can no longer be used to discriminate against fetishists and bdsm people. WHO’s Working Group on Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health admit that psychiatric diagnoses has been abused to harass, silence, or imprison leather men and bdsm women.

HUMAN RIGHTS: The Working Group emphasize that a disease label may create violence and discrimination and consider stigmatization of fetishism and bdsm as inconsistent with human rights principles endorsed by the UN and the WHO.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487931

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5032510

Milestone

– This is a milestone in the work for human rights and sexual liberation, says Ingvild Endestad, leader of FRI, the Norwegian LGBT organisation for sexual and gender diversity. Consensual sexuality has nothing to do with psychiatry. This is an immensely important recognition of the sexual diversity among us, she says.

Ingvild Endestad. Photo: FRI.

Endestad gives Svein Skeid and FRI’s Revise F65 committee much of the credit for the victory. Human rights standards are part of the professional basis for the reform and the recommendations from Revise F65 are entirely taken into account.

 – The work to remove bdsm and fetish diagnoses has been part of the Norwegian LGBT organisation since 1996. After more than 20 years of sexual political efforts the Revise F65 committee, with Svein Skeid in the lead, has fulfilled its mandate both nationally (2010) and internationally, she says.

– The withdrawal of fetishism, fetishistic transvestism, and sadomasochism as mental illnesses can lead to the same pride and freedom that other queer groups enjoy. The revision of the F65 ICD chapter can also make it easier to encourage research, get rid of anti bdsm laws and become included in national laws against discrimination, Endestad concludes.

Read responses from fetish/bdsm people to WHO’s June 18 announcement:

Susan Wright in the American organization NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom) reports July 12, 2018 about a child custody case in Belgium. The woman was so glad Revise F65 did this work so she has a defense.

Polish Marcin has been in contact with Revise F65 since 2012. June 21, 2018 he writes:

”… that was great news, I had some personal problem with that – my previos wife tries to take my kid from me, and I have to go to several sexologist and psychiatrist to prove, that I’m normal. Now I can tell everyone, that I’m normal, and I have it in written ;).”

Mike W on the #gear365 FB group writes June 22, 2018:

“… this is an excellent posting. It’s well timed with my discovery of #Gear365. In a short space of time the international encouragement to get out and be who I am has done what years and years of angst and stress failed to achieve. Thanks guys, a huge thanks!

 

 

Admin Nigel publised June 20, 2018 on BLUF.com:

– No more sick filth!

Just in time for Pride, over twenty years of hard work by BLUF member Svein Skeid aka oslosuB (641) have paid off, with the World Health Organisation revising its classification of diseases, removing fetishism and BDSM.

More reactions June 22, 2018:

”Finally, some fucking good news today.”

”This is great news for all of us in to fetish gear and BDSM. Now our leather and rubber communities can grow and we can wear our gear proudly.”

”This is absolutely tremendous news, Svein! Thanks for all your efforts to bring our amazing community out of the WHO biggot list once and for all. You’re a true hero!”

Ground-breaking pioneering work

Svein Skeid and Odd Reiersøl. Photo: private.

Denmark, which removed sadomasochism from its national list of diseases in 1995, was our big source of inspiration, says Svein Skeid, the leader of Revise F65. Skeid and psychologist Odd Reiersøl started a ground-breaking cooperation across national borders and sexual orientations where dozens of activists, organizations and professionals contributed.

– It is very important for these individuals that society recognizes them as equal citizens, expressed the director of the health department, Lars-Erik Holm, to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter November 11th 2008, when the three diagnoses were abolished in Sweden.

– I heard the news on a Norwegian radio station and understood that an equivalent removal could also be within reach in Norway, Skeid tells.

– I had recently been in Stockholm during Europride and given the organization RFSU our arguments, he says. I became very touched by the Director General’s statement: ”The health department wants to emphasize that these behaviors are neither illnesses nor perversions.”

The Nordic model

MORE CELEBRATION: Svein Skeid in the middle. From Bergen Pride June 9th 2018. Photo: private.

– Within 6 years the diagnoses were repealed in all the Nordic countries, patterned after the Norwegian model and the pioneering work of Revise F65, psychologist Odd Reiersøl tells. – Thus the pressure increased on The World Health Organisation to follow suit. After a while Revise F65 achieved direct contact with the authorities in Geneva.

– In 2009 we received a commission from Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey Reed, who has been the leader of WHO’s Working Group on Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health. This resulted in a 3 page report documenting that the diagnoses in question are outdated, non scientific, and stigmatizing, says Reiersøl.

Dr. Reed asked for additional evidence, and November 11, 2011 ReviseF65 delivered a 50 page summary of research based knowledge, documenting that sadomasochism and sexual violence are two different phenomena. Among other things, the fetish/bdsm population has equivalent scores with the rest of the population regarding democratic values such as empathy, responsibility and gender equality.

Already the next day Dr. Reed gave feedback about perfect timing since the revision committee soon would have their very first meeting discussing the reports.

June 18, 2018 the World Health Organisation removed the three fetish and bdsm diagnoses globally. All recommendations from Revise F65 were taken into account in the new revised ICD-11 classification, because the diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism, according to WHO’s Working Group, not are ”relevant to public health and clinical psychopathology” but ”merely reflect private behaviour”. These substantial changes are, according to WHO, ”based on advances in research and clinical practice, and major shifts in social attitudes and in relevant policies, laws, and human rights standards”.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5032510/

The revision is scheduled to be finally adopted in 2019 and the manual can be employed from January 1, 2022.

#revisef65 #offthesicklist #humanrights #fetishrights #bdsmrights #fetishrightsarehumanrights #bdsmrightsarehumanrights #proudtobeahealthyperv #nomoresickfilth #gear365 #FIGHT #proudperverts #healthyperverts #leatherpride #beyourself #beproudofwhoyouare #fetishpride

SEE ALSO: FETISH AND BDSM TIMELINE

 

Fact box:

Respect, trust and love is basic in a bdsm relationship. Photo published with permission by probondage.de

* BDSM is a sexual identity/orientation about voluntarily to dominate or being dominated, or voluntarily give or receive pain.

* Fetishism is a sexuality involving specific objects, actions or ideas, which give sexual exitement and pleasure.

* The right to have control over one’s own sexuality and the right to privacy have been fundamental in the work to repeal homosexuality and subsequently fetishism and sadomasochism as mentally illnesses.

* The Norwegian LGBT organisation FRI in 1997 established a committee to work for the national and international repeal of bdsm and fetish diagnoses. In 2010 the diagnoses were removed from the Norwegian list of diseases. In 2018 the World Health Organisation followed suit.

 

Ingvild Endestad is leader of the LGBT-organisation FRI, the Norwegian organisation for sexual and gender diversity. E-mail: [email protected] Phone: +47 97 56 22 95.

Svein Skeid is founder and leader of the Revise F65 project. He is award-winning for his work in the field of bdsm human rights for three decades. He is a Norwegian registered physiotherapist with professional background in psychiatry. E-mail: [email protected] Mobile: +47 95 80 29 85.

Odd Reiersøl is an experienced Norwegian psychologist for 30 years working with adults, couples and groups and educating other professionals. E-mail: [email protected] Mobile: +47 94 03 46 88.

SM versus abuse

Among other sources, this text is collected from Jay Wiseman’s book “SM 101” and Park Elliot Dietz, one of the worlds leading authorities on the connection between sex and violence
http://www.greenerypress.com/articles.htm
http://members.aol.com/NOWSM/Psychiatrists.html/#Psychiatrists

SM versus violence

1. Perhaps the biggest difference between a violent sadist and an SM Master is that the former destroys the self confidence, value and dignity of the victim. An SM Master does the opposite.

2. SM sexual games have neither perpetrators nor victims. An SM scene is a win-win situation for mutual satisfaction.

3. The submissive partner wishes and longs for the domination. Most people do not want to be abused, and consensual domination is not abuse.

4. Planning, communication and warming up (like in extreme sports) are essential for preventing damage. Sadistic psychopaths, on the other hand, damage their victims, physically and emotionally, deliberately.

5. A sadistic psychopath has usually a history of sexual abuse like rape and incest. Sadomasochists are, as a rule, ordinary people without criminal records or criminal interests.

6. SM is played out in safe settings and safe ways. Abuse is out of control.

7. SM games are negotiated beforehand by equal partners. They decide upon limits and safe words. A perpetrator decides unilaterally without any concern for the wishes, limits or the well being of the victim.

8. SM games contain rules that are mutually agreed upon. In an abusive relationship there is no agreement and the victim has no rights.

9. SM is built upon respect and confidence and is always consensual. Abuse is non consensual and ruins the relationship.

10. The violent sadist is cold and without empathy during the torture. The SM Master uses communication and empathy to find out what turns the slave on.

11. An SM relationship can be loving, intimate, and involve personal growth. Victims of violence experience anxiety, guilt, shame and powerlessness.

12. Many SM practitioners switch roles during the interaction, from time to time, or as a personal development. In an abusive relationship the roles, as a rule, are static.

13. SM is often practiced with support from friends and often in an SM environment. Abuse, on the other hand, requires isolation and secrecy.

14. The dominant in the SM relation respects the borders of the partner. To the extent the borders are stretched, it takes place according to mutual agreement.

15. Using a safe word (e.g. “red”) the slave can immediately stop the game for whatever reason, whether it is physical or emotional. A victim has no such possibility with a perpetrator.

16. SM role-playing typically ends with mutual cuddling and evaluation.

17. The SM slave typically feels grateful to the Master. A victim is not grateful.

18. SM people don’t feel that they have any rights to control their partners by virtue of gender, income or other external, circumstances. Perpetrators often do.

19. There are reasons to believe that SM, like other kinds of consensual sexual practices, liberate bodily and emotional energy, promotes health and prevent violence.

See also: Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Self and society in late modern age. Stanford University Press. Stanford.

LEOP-What is SM?

Written by Susan Wright and Dr Charles Moser

In the last decade, SM awareness has exploded into popular culture. SM is commonly depicted in advertising, books, movies, music, and is becoming commonplace on television. SM has been positively covered by Newsweek, Time, Ms. Magazine, the New York Times and many other national publications. SM fashion accessories have become commonplace, as have jokes about SM play. Yet separating the truth about SM from the stereotypes can be difficult.

The present booklet is an attempt to educate the public about sadomasochism (SM). The following are some answers about consensual SM that are supported by scientific research.

1. SM is a Sexual Orientation or Behavior *

2. SM is Safe, Sane and Consensual *

3. SM is not Domestic Violence *

4. The Psychiatric Opinion about SM *

5. Should I be Afraid of People Who Enjoy SM? *

6. How Many People Engage in SM Activities? *

7. More Information About SM *

APPENDIX A *

Excerpt from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. *

1. SM is a Sexual Orientation or Behavior

SM is a sexual orientation or behavior among two or more adult partners. The behavior may include, but is not limited to, the use of physical and/or psychological stimulation to produce sexual arousal and satisfaction. Usually one partner will take an active role (top or dominant) and the other will take a passive role (bottom or submissive). SM practitioners can be heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, transgendered or intersex individuals.

SM is not easily defined; the range of behaviors are quite broad and most participants do not enjoy all of the activities or roles. The problems with the definition are discussed at length in an article by Weinberg, Williams and Moser. They found five features present in most SM interactions they studied:

 

      1. Dominance and submission – the appearance of rule and obedience of one partner over the other;

         

         

      2. Consensuality – a voluntary agreement to enter into SM “play” (interaction) and to honor certain “limits” (ground rules of how involved and in which direction the play can proceed);
      3. Sexual content – the presumption that the activities have a sexual or erotic meaning;
      4. Mutual definition – the assumption of a shared understanding by the participants that their activities are SM or a similar concept.
      5. Role playing – the participants assume roles either for the interaction or for the relationship that they recognize are not reality.

Weinberg, M.S., Williams, C.J., & Moser, C.A. (1984). “The social constituents of sadomasochism.” Social Problems, 31, pg. 379-389.

2. SM is Safe, Sane and Consensual

SM-Leather-Fetish educational and social organizations consider the cornerstone of SM activity to be the guidelines: “safe, sane, and consensual.” While it is possible to do any activity in a reckless and dangerous manner, SM is no more dangerous than skiing or other thrilling activities.

*Safe*

Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what you are doing, and acting in accordance with that knowledge. Safety includes the responsibility of protecting yourself and your partner from STD (sexually transmitted disease) infection including the HIV virus.

While the media often portrays the more extreme SM behaviors, the reality is that a lot of SM play never goes beyond a playful spanking. Just as there are ways to reduce the risk in activities such as scuba diving or driving a car, there are ways to reduce the risk and engage in SM behavior safely.

The organized SM community is active in promoting safety seminars and teaching the practitioners how to engage in these behaviors safely. The fact that SM practitioners are not clogging the emergency rooms every weekend, is an indication that these programs are working. If SM injuries were occurring, it seems obvious that the press would be highlighting this for the entertainment of its readers/viewers.

*Sane*

Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Fictional accounts of SM are often distorted for fantasy sake, and are not representative of real situations and relationships.

Sane also distinguishes between mental illness and health. A real distinction between mental illness and health is when a behavior pattern causes problems in a person’s life. Washing your hands until the skin is peeling off, or so frequently that you can not otherwise function is a sign mental illness. SM, like any other behavior, can be a sign of psychiatric problems. However the vast majority of its practitioners find that SM enriches and promotes functionality in the other areas of their life.

*Consensual *

Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times.

Consent is the prime ingredient of SM. One difference between rape and heterosexual intercourse is consent. One difference between violence and SM is consent. The same behaviors that might be crimes without consent are life-enhancing with consent.

The type and parameters of control are agreed upon by the people involved, and the ongoing consent of all participants is required. Some practitioners use a safeword, which is a designated word that signals the scene must slow down or stop. Rick Houlberg writes in “The Magazine of a Sadomasochism Club: The Tie That Binds”:

“The only “cardinal” rules which the Club’s membership insists each member must uphold are that all SM activities must be consensual, nonexploitative, and safe. As children are not considered to be able to consent, all activities must be between adults. The consensual and safety rules of the Club are constantly being reinforced. Safety and etiquette issues, including restrictions on overt and heavy drug use, are strongly stressed at new-member orientations and in all written materials produced by the Club.”

Rick Houlberg (1993). “The Magazine of a Sadomasochism Club: The Tie That Binds.” Journal of Homosexuality 21 (1/2), Haworth Press: pg. 167-83.

3. SM is not Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional intimidation of one partner to coerce or isolate the other partner without consent. Abuse tends to be cyclical in nature, escalates over time, and characterized by apologies between the episodes that it will never happen again.

SM is not abuse or domestic violence because:

      1. SM is voluntary. The partners agree to erotic power exchange of their own free will and choice. Either partner is free to leave at any time. The fact that SM relationships do split (amiably or not) without retaliation or violence supports the importance of this distinction.
      2. SM is consensual. All partners involved agree to what is going to happen. Discussion of limits is usual and customary. Violation of those limits is a serious offense within the SM community.
      3. SM partners are informed. Participants involved in erotic power exchange have an understanding of the possible consequences.
      4. SM partners ask for and enjoy the behavior; they are often disappointed if the behavior does not happen. There is no apology for the behavior after it is over, rather both partners are happy and satisfied that it occurred.
      5. SM partners take great care to make sure that their activities are as safe as possible. To truly damage their partner would deny themselves of being able to participate in the behavior. Individuals that violate their partners limits soon find that they are lacking partners in which to engage in the behavior. To emphasize the point, SM groups frequent hold educational meetings on how to safely engage in the behavior.

Nonetheless, as with any group of people, you will find cases of domestic violence among SM practitioners. The organized SM-Leather-Fetish community does not condone domestic violence and actively encourages victims and abusers to seek help.

Sociologist Thomas S. Weinberg is the author of numerous professional articles on human sexuality in various scholarly journals. In Studies in Dominance & Submission, Dr. Weinberg says:

“While the individuals we have discussed are different in many ways there are, nevertheless, some common themes running through them. These similarities are all related to S&M as a form of social interaction. For example, the importance of learning both attitudes and techniques through a socialization process is evident in all of these … In order for an S&M scene to be successful, from the viewpoint of both partners, it must be collaboratively worked out. Unless there is satisfaction on the part of both master (or mistress) and slave, the relationship will terminate. Thus, there must be agreement on the scene and consent given by both parties. Adjustments must be made by participants so that they are both stimulated.”

Thomas S. Weinberg (1995). Studies in Dominance & Submission, Prometheus Books: pg. 89.

4. The Psychiatric Opinion about SM

In recent years as more research has been published, the mental health and medical communities have begun to accept that SM is a safe, legitimate pursuit.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) which defines currently recognized mental disorders, SM per se is NOT a mental disorder. In their diagnostic criteria for both sexual masochism and sexual sadism, the DSM-IV states that SM only becomes a diagnosable dysfunction when:

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

In addition, the DSM-IV clearly allows for non-pathological sexual behavior:

“a paraphilia must be distinguished from the non-pathological use of sexual fantasies, behavior or objects as a stimulus for sexual excitement.”

[The entire diagnostic criteria for sexual masochism and sexual sadism are reproduced Appendix A.]

5. Should I be Afraid of People Who Enjoy SM?

You do not have to be afraid of people who engage in SM. SM players are doctors, lawyers, teachers, construction workers, fire fighters, secretaries and everything else you can imagine.

In her 1983 book Erotic Power, sociologist Gini Scott examined the dynamics of the heterosexual SM subculture. She stated:

“Unlike the psychiatrists and psychologists who deal primarily with psychologically troubled individuals who are also interested in D&S [Dominance and Submission], I did not find them to be psychologically troubled or socially inept; rather, a spirit of good humor and fun prevailed, and the participants appeared to be mostly attractive, quite ordinary-looking people who had ordinary relationships outside the D&S scene… A vast variety of people with a diverse range of erotic interests participate in sadomasochism. Their backgrounds, activities and attitudes are quite unlike the social stereotype that depicts sadomasochism as a form of violence, mischief, or mayhem perpetrated by the psychologically unstable who seek to hurt others or to be hurt themselves… At the core of the community are mostly sensible, rational respectable, otherwise quite ordinary people. Thus, quite unlike its public image, the community is a warm, close and supportive one.”

Gini Scott (1983). Erotic Power, Citadel Press: pg. x.

6. How Many People Engage in SM Activities?

A handful of significant sociological studies have been done to determine percentage of the population engages in SM activities:

The 1990 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex reports:

“Researchers estimate that 5-10 percent of the U.S. population engages in sadomasochism for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or stage activities involving no real pain or violence. Most often it is the receiver (the masochist), not the giver (the sadist), who sets and controls the exact type and extent of the couple’s activities. It might also interest you to know that in many such heterosexual relationships, the so-called traditional sex roles are reversed — with men playing the submissive or masochistic role. Sadomasochistic activities can also occur between homosexual couples.”

June M. Reinisch, Ph.D. with Ruth Beasley, M.L.S (1990). Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, St. Martin’s Press: pg. 162-163.

A new Playboy poll by Dr. Marty Klein appeared in November, 1998, p. 81:

18% of the men and 20% of the women have used a blindfold during sex.

30% of the men and 32% of the women have tied someone up or have been tied up during sex.

49% of the men and 38% of the women have spanked or have been spanked as part of sex.

A survey by Hunt (1974) of 2,026 respondents found that 4.8% of men and 2.1% percent of women had obtained sexual pleasure from inflicting pain and 2.5% of the men and 4.6% of the women obtained sexual pleasure from receiving pain. These numbers are probably underestimates, because the erotic response to “pain” is only one aspect of SM. (M. Hunt, Sexual Behavior in the 1970s, Chicago: Playboy Press.)

A mid-1970s independent research organization poll funded by Playboy surveyed 3,700 randomly selected students from 20 colleges found that 12% women and 18% of the men had indicated a willingness to try bondage or master-slave role-playing. (Playboy, “What’s Really Happening on Campus”, October 1976.)

A survey by E. Hariton (1972) found that up to 49% of women fantasize about submissive scenarios during sexual intercourse with 14% doing so frequently. (E. Hariton, “Women’s Fantasies During Sexual Intercourse with their Husbands: A Normative Study with Tests of Personality and Theoretical Models'” unpublished doctoral dissertation, City University of New York.)

Paul H. Gebhard, is an anthropologist and was the executive director of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University from 1956 to 1983. Gebhard noted in Fetishism and Sadomasochism (Dynamics of Deviant Sexuality, 1969, pg. 79.) that “consciously recognized sexual arousal from sadomasochistic stimuli are not rare.” The Institute for Sex Research found that one in eight females and one in five males were aroused by sadomasochistic stories.

In 1929, Hamilton’s marriage habits survey reported that 28% of men and 29% of women admitted they derived “pleasant thrills” from having some form of “pain” inflicted in them. (G.V. Hamilton, A Research in Marriage, Boni, New York.)

7. More Information About SM

*Why do you call it SM instead of S&M?*

The term “S&M” stands for Sadism and Masochism, and the historical definitions and depictions of S&M are often stereotyped and nonconsensual. The term “SM” stands for sadomasochism, which is a type of sexual orientation or behavior. Many people call it SM to emphasize the need for consent since both behaviors are united in a single word. SM is also sometimes referred as “leather,” “Dominance & Submission,” “D&S” and “BDSM”.

*Where did the terms Sadism and Masochism come from?*

As the language has evolved, the contemporary definitions of sadism and masochism are changing. Sadism no longer implies non-consensuality, nor does it imply violence. It simply means that someone receives erotic gratification from the infliction of psychological or physical stimulation on a consenting partner. Conversely, a masochist is someone who enjoys receiving that psychological or physical stimulation.

The term ‘sadism’ was popularized by psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in 1886 and stems from the writings of the Marquis de Sade (de Sade’s writing style had been referred to as “le sadisme” for years, Krafft-Ebing was the first to use the term in a clinical manner). The case histories he reported primarily concerned nonconsensual sexual violence and were not about what we now call SM.

Krafft-Ebing also coined the term ‘masochism’ to describe the enjoyment of sexual servitude. He took the term from the writings of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, a prominent Austrian novelist, who wrote about his own masochistic desires in novel form. Sacher-Masoch was alive at the time and not very happy about having a perversion named after him, as it defamed his grandfather. Sacher-Masoch was given his hyphenated name as an honor to his maternal grandfather; his mother was the only daughter of an esteemed public health physician. Dr. Masoch convinced the Austrian government to install the sewer system of Vienna, thereby preventing uncounted epidemics. It is ironic that this public health physician is remembered for a sexual diagnosis rather than for the good he actually accomplished.

*Why do people do SM?*

We do not know why some people are heterosexual and others are homosexual. We do not know why some people eroticize breasts and others legs. We do not understand how people develop any particular eroticism. We do know that no one has found any characteristic in childhood history, birth order, etc., that is more common among SM practitioners than the general public. Specifically, there is no indication that SM practitioners are more or less likely to have been spanked as children, or to have been the victim of sexual or other abuse as children.

Andreas Spengler did the first major study of those who identified as SM practitioners (1977). The only thing these devotees had in common was their high standard of living, social status, and education. 90% were perfectly happy with their sexual preferences, with their biggest burden being the social stigma attached to these acts. (A. Spengler, “Manifest Sadomasochism of Males: Results of an Empirical Study,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 6, pp. 441-56.)

*SM is about love and pleasure*

SM is about sensation and stimulation, exchanging power, trusting one’s partner, and sharing love and pleasure. Some SM practitioners seek “pain” but they want the sensation administered in a way that is ultimately pleasurable to them.

Sociologists Weinberg and Kamel wrote in 1995:

“Much S&M involves very little pain. Rather, many sadomasochists prefer acts such as verbal humiliation or abuse, cross-dressing, being tied up (bondage), mild spankings where no severe discomfort is involved, and the like. Often, it is the notion of being helpless and subject to the will of another that is sexually titillating… At the very core of sadomasochism is not pain but the idea of control–dominance and submission.

Thomas S. Weinberg and G.W. Kamel (1995). “S&M: An Introduction to the Study of Sadomasochism,” S&M: Studies in Dominance and Submission, Prometheus Books, pg. 19.

Havelock Ellis, M.D., produced a groundbreaking study of sexuality: Studies of the Psychology of Sex, in which he wrote that the concept of pain is much misunderstood:

“The essence of sadomasochism is not so much “pain” as the overwhelming of one’s senses – emotionally more than physically. Active sexual masochism has little to do with pain and everything to do with the search for emotional pleasure. When we understand that it is pain only, and not cruelty, that is the essential in this group of manifestations, we begin to come nearer to their explanation. The masochist desires to experience pain, but he generally desires that it should be inflicted in love; the sadist desires to inflict pain, but he desires that it should be felt as love….”

Havelock Ellis, M.D. (1926). Studies of the Psychology of Sex, F.A. Davis Company, pg. 160.

APPENDIX A

Excerpt from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition.

These criteria are listed in the Paraphilia section, pg. 525.

Diagnostic criteria for 302.83 Sexual Masochism

      1. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound or otherwise made to suffer.
      2. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Diagnostic criteria for 302.84 Sexual Sadism

      1. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving acts (real, not simulated) in which psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the person.
      2. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.