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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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).

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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.

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Correspondence to Eva Jozifkova.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Sexual Disorders

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Jozifkova, E. Consensual Sadomasochistic Sex (BDSM): The Roots, the Risks, and the Distinctions Between BDSM and Violence. Curr Psychiatry Rep 15, 392 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-013-0392-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-013-0392-1

Keywords

  • 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