Is There a Relationship Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Sexual Masochism in Women?

Arch Sex Behav. 2017 Apr;46(3):747-754. doi: 10.1007/s10508-016-0834-z. Epub 2016 Sep 6.


Sexual masochism disorder is considered the most prevalent paraphilia among women. However, little is known about the etiology and clinical correlates involved in this disorder. We aimed at addressing this issue through a potentially high-risk clinical cohort. This case-control study consisted of 60 women who met DSM-IV criteria for borderline personality disorder (BPD) and 60 women with other personality disorders. For both groups, sexual masochism disorder comorbidity was assessed through the Structured Clinical Interview, Sexual Disorders Module. Several etiological, psychosexual, and personality features were measured. Sexual masochism disorder was 10 times higher in BPD women than in women with other personality disorders (10 vs. 0 %). Among BPD women, those with sexual masochism disorder reported more child sexual abuse, more hostile/dismissing attachments, higher sensation seeking, and more frequently exploratory/impersonal sexual fantasies than BPD without sexual masochism. Correlation analysis confirmed a significant positive relationship between disinhibition and sexual masochism severity for BPD women. Our findings point out that BPD women may represent a high-risk cohort, especially those with higher disinhibition and detached attachment. Childhood sexual abuse may also play a predispositional role on this comorbidity. Further research may help to elucidate the intriguing relationship between both disorders.

Keywords: Borderline personality disorder; Comorbidity; Sexual masochism; Sexuality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder* / complications
  • Borderline Personality Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Masochism* / complications
  • Masochism* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors