The Truth behind BDSM and Psychological Health

The Truth behind BDSM and Psychological Health

BDSM, otherwise known as the 50 Shades of Grey craze, is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission and sadomasochism.  50 Shades of Grey has had a big influence on society and raised a lot of excitement about BDSM – yet how accurate was the depiction of BDSM in the story?

The answer is, not very. Misconceptions about BDSM have always been around, and with all the excitement surrounding the 50 Shades of Grey saga, it’s important to clear out some facts. E. L. James, lead many of her readers to have grave misunderstandings of what BDSM is and is not.  Fifty Shades plays into the widely held belief that those involved in BDSM are psychologically damaged and potentially pathological.

A recent study conducted at the university of Wisconsin-Stout looked at 200 participants who engage in BDSM to debunk popular myths surrounding BDSM.  The research shows that:

  • people who practice BDSM are psychologically healthy
  • there is no link between engaging in BDSM and having a traumatic childhood
  • people who practice BDSM do not have cold, distant, controlling or abusive relationship
  • people who engage in BDSM tend to have higher scores on the BFI Openness to New Experiences subscale.

Therefore, while the Fifty Shades trilogy might be good entertainment for some, it provides a stigmatized and pathological depiction of the BDSM community.  The research shows that people who practice BDSM are no different from the average person with regards to psychological health.  If anyone you know enjoys BDSM, remember that Dorian Grey is not an accurate example of all BDSM practitioners.

Matthew Bartolo is a counsellor specialising in Sex & Relationships. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples, and runs the sex education services within Willingness. He can be contacted on matthew@willingness.com.mt.

Phone:

+356 7929 1817