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J Sex Med. 2013 Aug;10(8):1943-52. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12192. Epub 2013 May 16.

Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands. andreas.wismeijer@icloud.com

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

It has been generally thought that the practice of bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, sadism-masochism (BDSM) is in some form associated with psychopathology. However, several more recent studies suggest a relative good psychological health of BDSM practitioners.

AIM:

The aim of this study was to compare scores of BDSM practitioners and a control group on various fundamental psychological characteristics.

METHODS:

For this aim, 902 BDSM and 434 control participants completely filled out online questionnaires. Associations were examined using χ(2) tests of independence with φ and Cramer's V as effect size measures and eta or Pearson's correlation. Group differences were tested using analysis of covariance, with partial η(2) as effect size measure. A priori contrasts were tested using α = 0.01 to correct for multiple testing; for all other tests we used α = 0.05, two tailed.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The study used Big Five personality dimensions (NEO Five-Factor Inventory), attachment styles (Attachment Styles Questionnaire), rejection sensitivity (Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire), and subjective well-being (World Health Organization-Five Well-being Index).

RESULTS:

The results mostly suggest favorable psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners compared with the control group; BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extraverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, had higher subjective well-being, yet were less agreeable. Comparing the four groups, if differences were observed, BDSM scores were generally more favorably for those with a dominant than a submissive role, with least favorable scores for controls.

CONCLUSION:

We conclude that BDSM may be thought of as a recreational leisure, rather than the expression of psychopathological processes.

KEYWORDS:

Attachment; BDSM; Paraphilia; Personality; Recreational Leisure; SM; Subjective Well-Being

PMID:
23679066
DOI:
10.1111/jsm.12192
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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