This past July, HuffPo posted an article discussing a recent clinical study on BDSM and mental health. Even though by internet standards it’s ancient news, it’s making the rounds of my social network feeds again. Now that I have this blog, I thought this would be a good forum to comment.
The study’s findings boil down to this:
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
What I really like about this article circulating is that everyone who has posted it is a kinkster themselves, and every one of their reactions has been something along the lines of, “Uhh….yeah! Duh!”
The article discusses some theories as to why this is the case. One favorite seems to be the rather elaborate hypothesis of:
People involved in the BDSM community may have scored better on these surveys 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.
In other words, rather than try and suppress subversive desires, causing stress and all it’s downstream effects, these people have embraced their inner demons and come to terms with their darker sides. A darkly romantic idea that seems to have spawned from the few pieces of kinky cannon that have leaked over to the mainstream. And while it’s not an impossible hypothesis, I think it is secondary to the most likely explanation.
Communication. Communication. Communication.
One of the things that has really struck me about the BDSM community is how much of its culture is built upon connecting with your own needs and communicating them to your partner. Some of these communications might be more ritualized and formalized than others, but in order for BDSM to really work, they have to be there in some form. Any of these forms of communication are usually still way ahead of the communication expected in “mainstream” sexual interactions and relationships.
The good news is, the more you practice, the easier such communication becomes. The magical news is this connection with your needs and a willingness to express them bleed over to other aspects of your life. Once you’ve mastered things like negotiating the right amount of impact in your play, or what exactly you will allow to be put inside your body, then the more banal things like negotiating the dishes or identifying your preferences for your weekend plans become easier as well.
Or at least, that’s how it happened for me.