Consensual sadomasochistic sex (BDSM): the roots, the risks, and the distinctions between BDSM and violence

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Sep;15(9):392. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0392-1.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Masochism / diagnosis
  • Masochism / psychology*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sadism / diagnosis
  • Sadism / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Violence / psychology*