Practitioner psychologists' understandings of bondage / discipline, dominance / submission, sadomasochism (BDSM): shared or separate from those who practise it

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Van Der Walt, Herman
  • Subject: BF692 | RC467

Research with individuals who practise consensual Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, Masochism (BDSM) has revealed a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon which serves various functions for its practitioners. Historical associations of BDSM practice with underlying psychopathology, despite empirical evidence to the contrary, may lead to misunderstanding among practitioner psychologists and potentially biased or culturally insensitive psychological treatment of BDSM-oriented individuals. \ud \ud This Q-methodological study investigated subjective understandings of BDSM among practitioner psychologists and whether these understandings were shared with or separate from those who practise BDSM. Forty practitioner psychologists and 40 BDSM practitioners completed a q-sorting task and brief questionnaire online. \ud \ud Comparable majority understandings of BDSM – as a complex phenomenon concerned mainly with power and pleasure – emerged between the psychologist and BDSM practitioner groups. Psychologists generally did not consider themselves particularly knowledgeable on the subject of BDSM, partly due to having received limited teaching and training. There is a need for raising awareness among practitioner psychologists of BDSM as a non-normative, minority sexuality.
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