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A Systematic Scoping Review of the Prevalence, Etiological, Psychological, and Interpersonal Factors Associated with BDSM

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781–811
Number of pages31
JournalJOURNAL OF SEX RESEARCH
Volume57
Issue number6
Early online date16 Oct 2019
DOIs
Accepted/In press3 Sep 2019
E-pub ahead of print16 Oct 2019
Published23 Jul 2020

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King's Authors

Abstract

BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism) encompasses a diverse set of sexual interests. Research interests in BDSM have been historically underpinned by examining potential mental health issues, unhealthy fixations on specific sexual behaviors, and/or the presence of childhood trauma, as is predicted by psychopathological and psychoanalytic models. The objective of this scoping review was to provide an overview of the current landscape of BDSM research, including incidence rates, evidence for psychopathological, psychoanalytical, biological, and social etiological factors, demographics of BDSM practitioners, and the psychological correlates of those with BDSM interests. After the literature search and screening process, 60 articles were included. BDSM related fantasies were found to be common (40-70%) in both males and females, while about 20% reported engaging in BDSM. Results show little support for psychopathologic or psychoanalytic models. In the selected samples studied, BDSM practitioners appear to be white, well educated, young, and do not show higher rates of mental health or relationship problems. Research supports BDSM being used as a broadening of sexual interests and behaviors instead of a fixation on a specific interest. Future empirical research should focus on non-pathological models of BDSM, discrimination of BDSM practitioners, interpersonal relationships, and biological factors.

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