Tag Archive: health

Denmark withdraws SM from Diagnosis-list

Denmark has taken the political decision to remove SM as a diagnosis

In 1995, as the first European country, Denmark withdrew sadomasochism completely as a diagnosis by a political decision in the Government. The decision is founded on research showing SM or sadomasochism to be no disease. The Dual-role transvestism diagnosis were repealed in Denmark August 19, 1994.

– Not a disease

In a letter to Anders Sørensen, chairman of the SM association Det Sorte Selskab (The Black Society), the former Health Minister Yvonne Herløv Andersen (picture) wrote that she finds it deplorable that sadomasochism is included in the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases.

“I think there is good reason to abandon the international disease classification on this point,” wrote Andersen, who was the Danish Health Minister from 1994 to 1996, and Social Minister before that. The Minister agreed that sexual preferences are an entirely private matter. “The acceptance of people with a different sexuality has increased, and in this area Denmark is a pioneer country”, she concluded in her letter.

The Black Society’s chairman Anders Sørensen received the decision with enthusiasm. “Many sadomasochists all over the world wish that this attitude were current in their own country, including neighbours like Sweden, Norway and England, which in other matters are regarded as enlightened and civilised states with a human attitude in the administration of justice”, the SM chairman declaired to the Danish newspaper “Politiken” (The Politics 1995, April 1, p. A7).

In the picture at the bottom, you can see a facsimile of the letter from Sundhedsstyrelsen (the Danish Board of Health), where the decision to stop using the diagnose F65.5 Sadomasochism, is announced. Click the picture for a larger version of the letter, which naturally is written in Danish. (English translation below).

Violence and SM in the same diagnosis

In today’s ICD classification there is no difference at all between voluntary and consensual SM sex on one side, and violence, harassment and spouse abuse on the other.

The above-quoted documents how Denmark in 1995 withdrew SM as a diagnose, for the precise reason that research shows that SM’ers are no more unsound than other people.
http://www.revisef65.org/psychopathology.html

On the web site
http://members.aol.com/NOWSM/Psychiatrists.html/#Psychiatrists;
Park Elliot Dietz – one of the worlds leading authorities on the relationship between aggression and sex – documents the basic differences between violent sadism and SM sadism.

On the same web site, the Kinsey Institute’s research report from 1990 is referred to. This report shows that 5-10 percent of the population exercise some form of SM or sadomasochism.

National rejection of diagnoses

Also in Norway and other countries we have seen, in relation to homosexuality, that single countries may reject individual diagnoses in ICD, which is controlled by the World Health Organization, WHO. The more countries that succeed in rejecting the disease classification F65 on fetishism and sadomasochism, the greater the possibility that WHO will withdraw it.

Kink Aware Professionals

Changes in the diagnosis classification ICD are now taking place almost continuously. History shows that the DSM list of the American Psychiatric Association, APA, very often affects the international ICD.

You can find a list over “Kink aware professionals” on http://www.ncsfreedom.org/index.php?option=com_keyword&id=270

This list, originating in the USA, now includes the whole world, also Europe. A few European resources have already started to emerge. See also: Kink aware professionals Berlin http://www.bdsm-berlin.de/kap.html

Kink aware professionals Canada http://www.vancouverleather.com/kap

The letter from Sundhedsstyrelsen (the National Board of Health)

From the Board of Health

To: head physicians at psychiatric wards
The Psychiatric Central Register
The hospitals’ centres of information technology
County data
Ministry of Health

April 24, 1995

J.no. 6702-15 1994
Local no. 6201

 

From the Health Minister the Board of Health has received a request that the disease classification’s code for sadomasochism be no longer used in the indexing of diseases.

Consequently we request that the use of the code

DF65.5 Sadomasochism

be blocked for use with effect from May 1, 1995.

Best regards
head physician G. Shiøler (sign.)
Board of Health, Amaliegade 13, Po. box. 2020, DK-1012 Copenhagen K. Telephone 33 91 16 01.
sundhedsstyrelsenbrevstor

The former Health Minister Yvonne Herløv Andersen, who in 1995, on behalf of the Danish government, removed sadomasochism as a criteria of illness in Denmark.
“The acceptance of people with a different sexuality has increased, and in this area Denmark is a pioneer country”

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

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.

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.

Link to Norwegian version: http://www.revisef65.net/2015/10/04/ikke-mer-sykelighet-blant-bdsm-ere/


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

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

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).

THE SO-CALLED “DEVIANT” SEXUALITIES: PERVERSION OR RIGHT TO DIFFERENCE?

THE SO-CALLED “DEVIANT” SEXUALITIES:
PERVERSION OR RIGHT TO DIFFERENCE?

This 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.

INTRODUCTION

The Internet became one more vehicle where people, occasionally or routinely, may enjoy or accomplish sexual fantasies and desires, often unconfessable and frustrated in their love and sexual relationships, safely and anonymously, without their real identities being revealed.

Similarly, the Internet provides opportunities for men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, marital status or age, and with distinct sexual preferences, to make come true, in the “real” world, a contact started and kept through online communication (Martins & Grassi, 2001).

Starting from the premise that the definition of “normality” is historically and culturally built, concepts such as “normal”, “healthy” and “pathological” are being questioned by all professionals who are interested in the study and comprehension of human sexuality.

The innumerable manifestations of human sexuality, so as the most varied searches for pleasure, confirm once more that, for the human being, sexuality is not linked to procreation.

The dynamics of human sexuality – what leads an individual to have the sexuality one has – has been an object of study since ancient times, without a consent being reached, which has lead to the search of new paradigms for understanding the so-called “deviant” sexual behaviors.

One of the reasons that make the comprehension of unconventional sexual interests difficult is that the traditional sexual paradigm, based on psychology and psychiatry, as well as on popular opinion, assumes that procreation is the most important biological function (Fog, 1992).

Most collected and studied data about so-called “deviant” behaviors were based on cases considered pathological.

Such studies were made under the legal medical view, or having as reference people who sought for psychiatric and/or psychological treatment because their sexual preferences “deviated” from “normal” sexual behavior (Ceccarelli, 2000) – understood as heterosexual relationship, ending on genital penetration and with the intention of procreating.

Certain so-called “deviant” practices, such as Sexual Sadism and Masochism and also Fetishism, are categorized as “paraphilias” and disfunctional behaviors in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (Fourth Edition), DSM-IV, by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems – 10th revision (1999), by the World Health Organization, which has generated many debates regarding diagnostic criteria, with which many professionals who are interested in the study of “alternative” sexual practices do not agree.

This study aims to explore human sexuality in its most diverse variations such as BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism) or SM, and Fetishism, through an online questionnaire sent to a group of people who describe themselves as BDSM and Fetish practitioners, and who have in the Internet their referential for the exchange and search of information, as well as the search for partners who share the same sexual fantasies.

This study has no intention of encouraging or condemning the choice of sexual practices, but of exploring the diversity of adult human sexuality of a group of people in the context of the contemporary Brazilian society.

METHOD

An e-mail was sent to the various discussion groups and classified ads posted on websites directed to consensual BDSM and Fetish practitioners in Brazil, and who use the Internet as a means of exchanging and obtaining information and contact with people who share the same sexual fantasies. The exploratory character of the study was explained, that it would be conduced basically via e-mail, and that the real identity of the participants would be preserved. Those who were interested should be over 18 years old, their sexual orientation or marital status notwithstanding. It was asked to the volunteers that they got in touch by replying the sent e-mail. One hundred and eleven people from various Brazilian states manifested their interest in participating. They were sent, then, a questionnaire with questions such as why they used the Internet, which sexual practices they were involved in, how and when they became interested in sexual activities that were considered “different” and how they felt about having pleasure with practices that are considered unconventional.

Information on their age, religious formation, sex, marital status, education and sexual orientation were also the object of interest for the research. It was not the aim of the present study to establish diagnostic criteria of the researched sample, or describing in details the unconventional sexual practices.

DISCUSSION

In spite of the growing evolution observed along the years in human sciences and in the technologic and scientific fields, sexuality is still the object of much speculation, prejudice and taboo. If we observe the diverse current reactions in face of sexual manifestations, we will see how much such reactions remain unchanged throughout History. Although the sixties‘ “sexual revolution” and the innumerous movements aiming at the recognition of human rights (especially the feminist) have changed the social scenery, sexuality is still an enigma for the human being and the object of many discussions since antiquity.

From the 5th Century on, due mainly to the leading Christian Fathers – Augustine, Jerome and Thomas of Aquinas – sexuality was linked to and procreation: the unquestionable example that follows is the “naturally heterosexual” life of animals. All sexual practice that falls out of that norm would bring what is known as the “negative pleasure stigma”.

Then, a form of morality that is essentially a sexual morality appeared. Practices “against nature” – considered offensive to decency, to custom and to public opinion – bring out severe sanctions, so that “normal” may be kept.

However – History shows that – such an objective was never reached: sexuality always escaped all attempts of normatization (Ceccarelli, 2000).

In the late 19th Century, the contemporary psychiatric discourse appears, marked by the same moralistic view;

it maintains the theological and juridical positions, bringing to the medical order what was, until then, from the juridical. The great psychopatologists of that epoch, among them Havellock-Ellis (1888) and Kraftt-Ebing (1890), classified and labeled the sexual practices that escaped moral rules.

A detailed inventory of the so-called “deviant” sexualities was traced, in which new forms of sexual practices (those which use the other for obtaining pleasure and in which the natural finality of sexuality – procreation – is subverted) were created: homosexualism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, sadism, masochism, joining the endless psychiatric nosography of that time. It is also when some terms, that later became classical, are introduced: perversion (1882, Charcot and Magna), narcisism (1888, Havellock-Ellis), auto-erotism (1899, Havellock-Ellis), sadism and masochism (1890, Krafft-Ebing) [Ceccarelli, 2000].

In the late 19th Century and, in a stronger way, in the early 20th Century, Sigmund Freud, in his most important text on sexuality, the “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” published in 1905, sustains that subordinating sexuality to the reproductive function is “a too limited criterion”. In Freudian perspective, sexuality is against nature, that is, as far as sexuality is concerned, there is no “human nature” (Ceccarelli, 2000).

Joyce McDougall and the concept of “Neo-Sexuality”

Contemporary author Joyce McDougall (1997) made an important and innovative reading of Freud, regarding perversion. According to the theoretical perspective of the author, the word “perversion” has a depreciative conotation and points towards negativity, since one never hears of someone who was “perverted” to good. The author maintains that, besides the moralistic implication in the vernacular use of the word, the current standard of psychiatric and psychoanalytic classification is equally questionable. When labeling and diagnosing someone as “neurotic”, “psychotic”, “psychosomatic” or “perverted”, the innumerable variations of psychic structures of each clinical category are not taken into account, losing sight of the most remarkable aspect of human beings in their genetic structure, which is their “singularity” (McDougall, 1997, p 186). Regarding the so-called perverted sexualities like fetishism and sadomasochist practices, she verifies that those occur in the quality of erotic games in sexual activities of non-perverted adults, be they heterosexual or homosexual, so that such practices do not provoke conflict, for they are not experienced as compulsive or as exclusive conditions for sexual pleasure. But heterosexual or homosexual adults who only have fetishist or sadomasochist erotic scripts, for whom those sexual practices are the only means of access to sexual relations, there must be care as to want those people to lose their heterodox versions of desire, simply because they may be considered symptomatic. Instead of “perversion”, McDougall (1997, p 188) prefers to name them “neo-sexualities”. According to the author, the term “perversion” would be more appropriated as a label for acts in which an individual imposes personal desires and conditions on someone who does not wish to be included in that sexual script (as in the case of rape, of voyeurism and exhibitionism) or seduces a non-responsible individual (as a child or a mentally disturbed adult) [McDougall, 1997, p 192].

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The Manuals of Mental Health and Project ReviseF65

Svein Skeid is one of the responsibles for the Project ReviseF65 or Project ICD (www.revisef65.org) that aims to mobilize, through a website and a discussion group on the Internet, SM/Leather/Fetish groups and professionals in the field of mental health in all the world, with the purpose of taking away the psychiatric diagnoses (“paraphilias”) of Fetishism, Transvestism and Sadomasochism from the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (www.revisef65.org/ICD10.html), published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The diagnoses of “paraphilia” may serve as a justification for stigmatization and violence against sexual minorities. Several reports of violence against Sadomasochism and Fetish practitioners may be found in the ReviseF65 website (www.revisef65.org). The U.S. Leather Leadership Conference reports that thirty to fifty percent of the SM population suffers discrimination, violence or persecution due to their sexual orientation. Project ICD states that “Stigmatizing minorities by diagnosing their sexual orientation is on the contrary as disrespectful as discriminating people because of their race, ethnicity or religion”. It is, undoubtedly, a legitimate proposal in defense of the human rights of sexual minorities.

Countries as Denmark, in consonance with the legitimate needs and rights of sexual minorities, have totally withdrawn the diagnoses of sadomasochism from their health manuals in 1995.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV, 1995, pp 495) also classifies Fetishism and Sexual Sadism and Masochism as “paraphilias”, in which, besides the existent recurring and intense fantasies and sexual impulses or behavior involving those practices (Criterion A), those fantasies, sexual impulses or behaviors must cause a clinically significant suffering or damage in social or occupational functioning or in other important areas of the individual’s life (Criterion B) [DSM-IV, 1995, p 495]. In case Criterion B is not met, the sexual variants above are not considered pathologic or symptomatic, configuring only a variation of adult human sexuality.

Due to the lack of information and knowledge of what consensual erotic practices are about, their practitioners are erroneously classified as victims or perpetrators of coercitive acts of violence and sexual abuse.

BDSM Concepts and Practices

Consensual fetishist and sadomasochist practices are not easily defined, for they include a wide range of behaviors from which many practitioners do not appreciate all roles and activities, being the detailed description of each BDSM or Fetishist practice beyond the scope of the present study. We will focus, however, on the most general terms.

The term “BDSM“, that refers to the sadomasochist universe as a whole, involves all its aspects – dominance, submission, bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism, while SM means “sadomasochism” (Paschoal, 2002, p 14). However, the relationship between them is analogous to the distinction between the terms “homosexual” and “gay” (Moser, 1996, p 24).

According to this author’s theoretic perspective, “Dominance and Submission (DS) implies the deliberate transference of psychological and sexual control from one partner to the other without, necessarily, elements of physical pain or humiliation”.

The term “Bondage and Discipline“, “B&D” or “B/D” refers to sexual practices with various kinds of immobilization or physical restraint, while “Discipline” indicates the acting out of fantasies that relate to punishment/penalties like, for example, the “teacher/student” fantasy.

Humiliation” refers to role-playing scenes in which the dominant partner detains control of power over the submissive partner, inflicting and ritualizing psychologic tortures, like verbal insults of a sexual conotation.

Regarding the terms “sadist” and “masochist“, there is a more physiological conotation, in which people experiment pleasure sensations in giving and/or receiving carefully controlled spanking with slippers or whips (Moser, 1996, p 25).

The word “leather” is used in the sadomasochist community by gays and lesbians (Moser, 1996, p 63).

Other behaviors also generally included in the sadomasochist practice are “age play”, a fetish that demands a partner to act as being of a different age, sometimes older, sometimes younger (playing as a baby, for example); forced or voluntary feminization of male submissives who wear high heel shoes, lingerie and female dresses (“crossdressing”), and also sexual plays involving urine and excrements. Paschoal (2002, p 16) maintains that “each of these concepts has personal, individual and unique aspects, like the people who practice them… Each one is free to choose which and how they prefer them… It is impossible to follow them in a literal way, since human creativity and individual freedom are what is the most precious in the human being”.

With the same creativity, the BDSM community created the term “vanilla“, for referring to conventional sexual practices that do not involve any SM component (Scott, 1997, p3). The “Safety, Sanity and Consensuality” triad (Brame G, Brame W & Jacobs, 1993, p 49) is considered a basic norm for consensual unconventional practices and may never be ignored or neglected. Paschoal (2002, p 22) states that the non-existence of any of the SSC aspects makes any and all BDSM relationship totally inviable.

By “Consensuality“, Moser (1996, p 31) understands the voluntary agreement firmed between the participants of the erotic play, in which the limits of each participants are honored. He explains that domestic abuse that occurs between a couple cannot be named “SM”, for SM is consensual, and abuse imposed on a partner is not. We may use as an example sexual intercourse and rape, where the former is consented and the latter is imposed by coercion. Therefore, the difference between sadomasochism and true violence is to be found in “informed consent” (Moser, 1996, p 31).

Sanity” refers to being aware of what the participants are doing in an SM scene: it is a fantasy that does not correspond to reality. Certain BDSM practices imply considerable risk. In this sense, the knowledge of the partner, the establishment of limits and knowing the risks inherent to each practice are very important factors for the erotic BDSM play to be safe and pleasant. It is also worth saying that safety involves some prohibitions. As it is extremely important that one has complete awareness of what one is doing, the use of alcohol or any kind of drugs is severely unadvisable before or during the BDSM scene or play (Paschoal, 2002, p 27). In case any physical or psychological limit is surpassed, the use of a “safeword” reestablishes the limits of physical and emotional safety of the participants and the play is immediately interrupted (Paschoal, 2002, p 25).

According to Brame, G, Brame, W & Jacobs (1993, p 358), the word fetish comes from the Portuguese word feitiÁo and it is said to be used for the first time by Portuguese explorers in the 15th Century, for describing sacred images. In its anthropologic meaning, fetish is linked to sacred artifacts that are invested of spiritual powers. For fetishists, the erotic fetish is the symbol of the divine itself, being able to arouse and even to induce their devotees to ecstasy. Examples of erotic fetishes are found in those who admire a pair of shoes, instead of the feet that wear them; or the feet are considered extremely arousing, in detriment of the human body as a whole. All human beings are fetishists to some degree. In Brazilian culture, buttocks are the object of national adoration, while in American culture, breasts are extremely valued. In China, small female feet are extremely sexy. This demonstrates that different cultures elect their own fetishes. As Paschoal (2002, p 68) illustrates very well, “a fetish would be a specific preference in a universe of possibilities… BDSM is more like a fantasy full of fetishes. So as a masochist prefers (or has the fetish of) receiving pain, or being tortured exclusively with ropes, or with candles, or with ice, or with all alternatives, or with none of them, the sadist prefers (or has the fetish of) causing pain. They are all fetishes”.

Regarding Brazilian reality, the Internet became a powerful vehicle for the search of information and contacts for people who are interested in the erotic sadomasochist and fetishist practices, largely contributing for the formation of a “virtual” subculture of sexual minorities. The Brazilian BDSM movement is at an embryonary state, but growing, with hundreds of websites and discussion groups (www.yahoo.com.br and www.msn.com.br), trying to form a gathering movement that provides recognition, visibility and contacts outside “virtual” reality, following an international tendency proposed by American organization “The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom” (NCSF), that fights for equal rights in the legal, political and social fields for adults who are engaged in the practice of alternative sexual expressions. According to articles on SM available in their website (www.ncsfreedom.org.), NCSF explains that Sadomasochism is not abuse or domestic violence, being the latter “a pattern of intentional intimidation of one partner to coerce or isolate the other partner without consent” (www.ncsfreedom.org/what.htm), as opposed to what happens in BDSM practices, in which the partners involved agree on everything that will happen in the erotic play, besides being well informed about possible consequences of the erotic power exchange game. It also explains that domestic violence may occur in any group of people, including SM practitioners, but with the difference that within the sadomasochist community domestic violence is not forgiven, and victims as well as abusers are encouraged to look for specialized help.

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RESULTS

Table 1

As we may see from table 1, the great majority of the total sample (n = 111) is composed by heterosexuals, but only seven (6,3 %) respondents are female, being four (4) officially married and three (3) single. The number of people who have partners and practice the same sexual fantasies, 36,1%, was larger than expected.

It is interesting to point out that in sexual practices involving Submission and Masochism (43,3%) only six (6) are heterosexual women, while the rest of the group are males, regardless of sexual orientation. Catholic religion (53,2%) has more representatives (which reflects Brazil’s religious proportions). The education level is high, 70,3 being graduated and 13,5% post-graduated.

CONCLUSION

We will quote below excerpts from some reports for illustrating the qualitative part of the study, in which respondents talk about how they feel regarding their sexual experiences and the topics that were approached in the questionnaire they answered.

– SS, post-graduated, fetishist, 35, married: “When I was about five years old, I remember getting aroused by wearing satin gowns, I liked to urinate on them and feel the smell of urine for many days… Since I was a child I realized I had “different” desires, but I was only able to understand that in fact these fetishes are not an “aberration of nature” three years ago, with the Internet… on the net I saw, talked to and knew there are people with the same tastes”.

– S., enterprise administrator, masochist, 34, married, remembers: “There was this game of police and thieves and the girls were always the police and the boys were the thieves. Girls ran after, caught and arrested the boys. I remember that when I was arrested, I always asked to be tied up, or I would run away; so I developed, unnoticing, my instinct of submission to females… A fantasy that impressed me in my child and teen years was “Catwoman” from the Batman series… Today, seeing it again with experienced eyes, I can perceive a very explicit fetishist citation. Catwoman was beautiful, that latex suit tight on her body… Whenever she captured the heroes, they were tied up and were at her feet… She was always shown, in her hideout, sitting on a throne on a pedestal, and her helpers sat on the floor at her feet… sometimes she found a way to step on a helper… pure fetish”.

– Fbond, importer, bondage fetishist, 31, married: “I take bondage and fetishism very seriously, I don’t like anything that causes pain, but I like the seduction allied to bondage, underwear, insinuating clothes (but not vulgar), I am cultured… I found out I was a fetishist at age 8 watching a Jerry Lewis movie and now I have more than 150 tapes of that kind… I consider myself a very friendly person, so I think it’s absurd that a fetishist should be put in the class of “abnormals”. Maybe there are even cases like that, but it’s not the majority”.

– Al Z, dominator, post-graduated in System Analysis, 38, married, reports: “Since I was a child, I appreciated scenes with bound or spanked women (generally in movies), when I knew nothing about sex… I think it was instinctive… I awoke to my fantasies five or six years ago, when I accidentally entered a site… at that time, I was 32 or 33 and that fact totally changed my life… Bondage and spanking (female buttocks) arouse me a lot, and also other forms of physical and psychological domination like, for example, transforming my partner into a dog, putting on her a collar and a leash… My relationship with my spouse is “standard”, that is, it follows religious and social rules for marriage… She doesn’t know about my incursions into the virtual world, not even that I look for someone to make my fantasies come true in the “real”. I feel like an absolutely normal person… What I think is that society is really afraid to admit that who likes BDSM (within the erotic context, of course) is a normal human being. People always look forward to living with more pleasure and BDSM is one more alternative form of reaching it fully… I never opened up to someone as much as I’m doing to you now, but I feel very good, because it was suffocating me”.

– J., System Analyst, submissive, 32, single: “I feel perfectly normal and even – why not – privileged, for knowing how to explore my sexuality in a different and much more intense way than most people do. I’m very happy to have enough capacity to understand my fetish and to enjoy it in a healthy, safe and very peculiar way”.

– N., administrative assistant, bondager, 26, single: “I like to be bound and completely immobilized, to feel completely vulnerable in the hands of my partner, not being passive but struggling because I was tied up, as if I was forced to be in that situation, not accepting passively that the other ties me up, but trying to “escape”, to get free, and end up being “defeated” by his strength and technique… the deprivation of senses, like vision and speech… this way they become sharper, but not knowing what the other person is going to do is an incomparable sensation… being gagged is an indescribable sensation… Putting all that together is an inexplainable sensation… Sincerely, I feel more normal than other people, I accept myself. I think what is abnormal is people neglecting themselves, or even living a faÁade relationship and looking beyond for the fulfillment of their fantasies… I believe that people can only be totally happy when they look for a relationship that fulfills them totally… (that is) difficult, but living a double life is still more difficult… in one of them you will be acting out… The society in which we live in is hypocrite… everyone has fantasies, but to fit the “normal” standard, they don’t recognize it and even criticize and get shocked with other people’s opinion. I believe that each one owns their life and owe no explanation to others about what they like or dislike within four walls; better yet, I think we must be free to live out our fantasies and other quotidian things too; of course, respecting the other’s limits and space. For me, BDSM is a form of pleasure, it is a vast world with many branches and each person chooses among those what really gives them pleasure… I chose mine and I am not bothered by the fact that society does not accept it or thinks I am an aberration… I feel more normal than everyone, for I am sincere with myself, I recognize and accept myself like that and it makes me happy…”

– M.H., dentist, crossdresser, submissive, 39, married: “I am married and my wife takes part in everything and has dominated me for over one year… As you may see, I’m a submissive crossdresser and I behave accordingly. I’m my wife’s sissy. I dress as a woman everytime I can, do all housework and I’m a woman for my wife. I’m totally passive and she is active… I often get spanked and humiliated, and I love it… I found out that what I felt and did was in tune with the BDSM universe when I was 18. But not knowing it was a BDSM attitude, ever since I can remember… since 6 or 7… I loved to play house with my cousins and I was always the housemaid, always working and humiliated. This was the role I chose. It gave me pleasure and, in my point of view, it fits BDSM. When I was 10 I came for the first time, when putting on an aunt’s skirt… I came without even touching myself. Since then I was always out of standards, but at 16 I noticed I was “different”. Would I be gay? But how would I be gay if I never had interest in men? But if I wasn’t gay, why would I fantasize myself in the female role?… Unfortunately, people live in a standard, hipocritely proposed by this machist and repressive society we live in.”

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– ZZ, billing assistant, submissive foot fetishist, 34, married: “My relationship with my wife is the best possible, in all senses. She knows about my attraction for feet, so much that she began taking more care of them and sometimes, when we make love, she spanks me with her slippers and I like it a lot. Since there is no physical or emotional damage to anyone and both agree on it, any practice is worth it, between a couple. The way society sees or judges my acts is not at all relevant to me.”

– JP, lawyer, sadist, 38, married: “I feel privileged for having certain sexual interests that are different from most people’s and for always being able to make them come true. BDSM is very complex, for there are different levels of SM and I’m in an intermediate one… some practices are indigestive for me, like coprophagy, public humiliation, cuts or burning, but as the word goes, “if done with their consent, the problem is theirs”…”

We may suggest that the people that took part in the researched sample, far from representing the totality of individuals with unconventional sexual practices in Brazilian society, feel in tune with their diverse sexual preferences, which are experienced as pleasant, and also feeling privileged for having a “differenced” sexuality from those who see in sex and in conventional roles the only form of expression for love, intimacy and fulfilling their sexual fantasies.

We cannot affirm, by the collected and reported data, that BDSM and Fetish practitioners who took part in this study may be called “paraphilic”. We would rather describe them as aware and well informed practitioners, and conscious of what we consider as variants in the complex adult human sexuality expression.

The use of the Internet is clearly important in the formation of a consensual BDSM subculture in Brazil, not only for communication and obtaining information among similar practitioners, but also as a mechanism of social inclusion, gathering thousands of people who share the same unconventional fantasies and practices. This study was made possible exactly because of the easy access, anonymity and the facility that the Internet provides to its users. Cooper et al (2000, p 6) states that the Internet offers the opportunity for the formation of virtual communities, in which the isolated and discriminated, like, for example, gays and lesbians, may communicate about sexual topics that interest this community.

When they realize the number of “equal” people, the sensation of isolation and of being “different” decreases or disappears and a new sense of “belonging” and identity appears for those who, before the advent of Internet, felt “abnormal” and “out of standard” for not having someone to share their longings and fantasies due to the prejudice and stigma regarding everything that deviates from the “norm” or “standard”.

We may suggest that the Internet may serve as a virtual “life-boat” for, when giving the opportunity to BDSM and Fetish practitioners and other sexual minorities to “come out of the closet”, it provides them an environment with no repression, prejudice, and where everything is possible in the fantasy world, and also giving the opportunity for those fantasies to come out of “virtuality” and be made true in the “real” world. According to Bader (2002, p 259), the question why some people act out their fantasies, while others do not, has no easy answer. In his theoretical perspective, it is easier to understand why someone develops some sexual fantasy or practice, but one can rarely affirm why this person acted it out or simply kept it in the fantasy level.

The world has gone through technological changes that are almost impossible to keep up with in the field of human life conception: the “test-tube” baby and artificial insemination are now current practices, once impossible to be imagined and made true, as is now the possibility of human cloning in laboratories. Novelty is frightening, provokes fears and feelings of unprotection.

But it is undeniable that changes in mentality are on their way, in this new millenium. Judeo-christian tradition, that has shaped the basis of Brazilian society for centuries, shows to be anachronic before the mentioned facts and what is yet to come.

The propagated “naturally heterosexual” animal life, that served as justification for the inprisonment of sexual desire and pleasure by religious institutions, begins to fall down with the latest scientific researches about the animals’s sexual life, which demonstrate that the “practices against nature” are also part of animal sexuality (www.subversions.com/french/pages/science/animals.html).

Where are we going to, since psycho-social, religious and cultural concepts and norms, that once defined the notion of “normality”, no longer apply to the pluralist society that we see? Our traditional sexual ethic, followed for a hundred years, no longer fits socio-cultural changes and the new challenges of the 21st Century. We live in a plural society, in which the most diverse expression of adult human sexuality are becoming visible and want to be accepted, recognized and legitimated. Sexual expressions that demonstrate maturity, respect and awareness among those who practice them. It is worth pointing out that feeling comfortable and in ego-syntonia with their sexual practices may have been the reason that took these individuals to take part in this study. The line that separates consensual BDSM practices and the so-called “perverted” practices is very thin. But is important that one knows how to distinguish one another.

And, based on that distinction, the present study has demonstrated that, in spite of its limited range, it is a human right to be “different” from majority and, consequently, to have that “difference” respected and accepted by all others.

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Bader, M. J. (1997). Arousal. The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies. Thomas Dunne Books, pp 259-260.

Brame G, Brame W & Jacobs (1993). Different Loving. The World of Sexual Dominance & Submission. Villard Books, NY, pp 49, 358.

Ceccarelli, P.R (2000). Sexualidade e Preconceito. Article published in the Revista Latinoamericana de Psicopatologia Fundamental, SP, III, 3, 18-37. Retrieved October 10, 2002, from www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Villa/Villa/3170/PauloCeccarelli.htm

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Cooper A et al. (2000). Cybersex. The Dark Side of the Force. Taylor& Francis, p 6.

Fog, A (1992). Paraphilias and Therapy. Nordisk Sexology, vol10, pp 236-242. Retrieved October 1, 2002, from www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/98-053r_fog_eng.htm

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Martins M C, Grassi M V F C (2001) American Women and Internet Infidelity. Abstracts Book. 15th World Congress of Sexology, June 24-28, Paris, p 149.

MCDougall, Joyce (1997). As Múltiplas Faces De Eros. Martins Fontes, SP, 2001, pp 186, 188, 192.

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Paschoal H, (2002). Sem Mistério. Uma Abordagem (Na) Prática de Bondage, Dominação, Sadismo e Masoquismo. Editora Cia do Desejo, Campinas, SP, pp 14, 16, 22, 27, 68.

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www.associacaobdsm.com.br. Retrieved May 7, 2002 [Dead link].

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www.yahoo.com.br. Retrieved April 02, 2002

 


Author: Maria Cristina Martins, Clinical Psychologist and Specialist in Human Sexuality. Campinas, SP, Brazil

Co-author: Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, PhD in Psycopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII, Paris, France; Appointed Professor of the Psychology Dep. of Pontifice Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.