BDSM Correlated With Better Mental Health, Says Study

From the Huffington Post:

People who are into kinky sex may be psychologically healthier than those who are not, says a new study. Researchers found that people who were involved in BDSM -- bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism -- scored better on certain indicators of mental health than those who did not bring kink into the bedroom, reported LiveScience.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in May, surveyed902 people who practice BDSM and 434 people who prefer so-called "vanilla" (non-kinky) sex. Each person filled out questionnaires regarding their personalities, general well-being, sensitivity to rejection and style of attachment in relationships. The participants were not aware of the purpose of the study.

Despite past assumptions that BDSM proclivities might be correlated with previous abuse, rape or mental disorders (research has shown that they're not), this survey found that kinky people actually scored better on many indicators of mental health than those who didn't practice BDSM, reported LiveScience. According to Reuters,BDSM-friendly participants were found to be less neurotic, more open, more aware of and sensitive to rejection, more secure in their relationships and have better overall well-being.

Andreas Wismeijer, a psychologist at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands and the lead author on the study, told LiveScience that people involved in the BDSM community may have scored better on these surveys because they tend to be more aware of and communicative about their sexual desires, or because they have done some "hard psychological work" to accept and live with sexual needs that are beyond the scope of what is often considered socially acceptable to discuss in the mainstream.

This research isn't necessarily representative of the general population since participants were selected on a volunteer basis, but it does support the argument for removing BDSM from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In the current DSM, BDSM fetishes are listed as "paraphilia," which essentially encompasses any "unusual" sexual preferences.

Fetish communities have argued for years that harmless sexual tastes should not be listed next to mental disorders. Perhaps this research will help bolster their case. 

Light Dark Institute featured in the Atlantic Monthly

That Time I Tried BDSM Therapy

Not all therapists take the gentle approach.

Whips, chains, collars, gags, blindfolds, handcuffs, knives… My eyes roam the soundproof room in which we are enclosed. The subject of our conversation is BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, and Masochism), a discipline that includes a wide variety of consensual power-exchange activities suggested by the various implements on display.

“Whether they are soldiers or victims,” Leslie Rogers explains, “there is nothing that binds people together better than war. What I'm re-creating in BDSM is like war—but in re-creating war, I'm ending it. I'm going to a place with you where I shouldn't go, and we’ll meet there, and in the end we’ll realize that we are still capable of being loved.”

I am talking with Rogers in a dungeon beneath a cabin in Salinas, California. The burly 36-year-old has one hand on the bar of a jail cell. The other clutches the nape of his partner’s neck, 33-year-old Tani Thole.

“We come across as really straight and vanilla,” Thole noted with a grin. “I have this soccer-mom vibe, and Leslie has a businessman vibe. People are very surprised when they find out who we really are.”

Read the rest here



In life it can sometimes seem that our inner “light side” and “dark side” are fundamentally opposed, and it can feel difficult to reconcile them. We often times feel that we should reject our dark side, or, even if we do recognize it as being an important part of ourselves, we tend to feel that it’s shameful and we should hide it from public view.

But what if it were okay to let your dark side out? What if that dark side held the key to your personal power? What if fully engaging your inner darkness gave you greater access to your inner light than you ever imagined possible?

Here at the Light Dark Institute we believe that our shadow sides are not only undeniable parts of ourselves, but that they in fact offer access to some of the very things we are most needing in order to reach wholeness and wellness in our lives.

We have discovered that when shame is excavated and we step into the parts of ourselves that we most judge and fear, incredible levels of healing and transformation are possible. For all the places where we’ve held ourselves back, kept ourselves small, and believed that we can’t have what we want, we can find a potent remedy by tapping into the power and freedom that our shadow sides have to offer us.

At the Light Dark Institute, we engage our darker aspects through conscious use of BDSM (“Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism”) also known simply as “Kink”. Through the use of play and explorations of power and surrender, we help people encounter and dissolve the places where they are stuck in life, and teach them to step into more dynamic and compelling versions of themselves.

All light casts a shadow. Everyone has darker aspects to their being, although some endeavor to keep theirs at a distance. When we ignore our dark sides, they leak out sideways in ways beyond our control, and can have adverse impacts on how we feel and how we interact with those around us. By facing our darker aspects intentionally, we can harness the power that is there and use it to serve rather than harm.

By bringing all the desire, vulnerability, and raw power of the “Dark” into connection with all the intentionality, approval, and care of the “Light”, we are able to blast through old patterns and create powerful new ways of being. In these places where Light and Dark meet, there is an incredibly powerful catalyst available to rapidly transform our lives and bring us out as who we really are, on levels we never even dreamed possible.

Only by truly embracing the fullness of the Dark can you truly find the fullness of the Light.