People who are into kinky sex may be psychologically healthier than those who are not, says a new study. Researchers found that people who were involved in BDSM — bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism — scored better on certain indicators of mental health than those who did not bring kink into the bedroom, reported LiveScience.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in May, surveyed 902 people who practice BDSM and 434 people who prefer so-called “vanilla” (non-kinky) sex. Each person filled out questionnaires regarding their personalities, general well-being, sensitivity to rejection and style of attachment in relationships. The participants were not aware of the purpose of the study.
Despite past assumptions that BDSM proclivities might be correlated with previous abuse, rape or mental disorders (research has shown that they’re not), this survey found that kinky people actually scored better on many indicators of mental health than those who didn’t practice BDSM, reported LiveScience. According to Reuters, BDSM-friendly participants were found to be less neurotic, more open, more aware of and sensitive to rejection, more secure in their relationships and have better overall well-being.
Andreas Wismeijer, a psychologist at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands and the lead author on the study, told LiveScience that people involved in the BDSM community may have scored better on these surveys because they tend to be more aware of and communicative about their sexual desires, or because they have done some “hard psychological work” to accept and live with sexual needs that are beyond the scope of what is often considered socially acceptable to discuss in the mainstream.
This research isn’t necessarily representative of the general population since participants were selected on a volunteer basis, but it does support the argument for removing BDSM from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In the current DSM, BDSM fetishes are listed as “paraphilia,” which essentially encompasses any “unusual” sexual preferences.
Fetish communities have argued for years that harmless sexual tastes should not be listed next to mental disorders. Perhaps this research will help bolster their case.