Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:392 | Cite as

Consensual Sadomasochistic Sex (BDSM): The Roots, the Risks, and the Distinctions Between BDSM and Violence

  • Eva JozifkovaEmail author
Sexual Disorders (JP Fedoroff, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sexual Disorders


When practiced consensually, sadomasochistic sex is being increasingly accepted as an alternative sexuality. Here I suggest the possible evolutionary roots of the preferences, draw distinctions between violent, abusive and “healthy” practitioners’ partnership, provide clear behavioural markers of the respective situations, and underline some specific problems connected to this sexual preference. Some of the problems are well-known in the community of its practitioners, although they have not yet been described in medical nor scientific sources.


Consensual sadomasochistic sex BDSM Violence Domestic violence Abuse Sexual disorders Psychiatry Sadomasochism Sadism Masochism Sex Dominance Submission Submissiveness Bondage Intimate partner violence Evolutionary biology Psychology Social hierarchy Hierarchy Minority Sexual practices Paraphilia ICD DSM-5 



Help with English corrections provided by Martina Kolackova, Msc, from the Charles University in Prague; Martin Konvicka, PhD, from the University of South Bohemia; and Matthew Sweney, PhD, is highly appreciated. This study was supported by grant P407/12/P616 from the Czech Science Foundation (GACR).

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Eva Jozifkova declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceJ.E. Purkynje University in Usti nad LabemUsti nad LabemCzech Republic

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