Sunday, January 17, 2016

Why Kink No Longer Equals Crazy

Once kinky folk were considered mentally ill, because a clinical manual said so. It took a long fight to get rid of that classification.

The DSM is a scary big book, explaining just how crazy you are. It does not matter whether you are really mad or not. If the big book says you are crazy, you are. Until its latest edition BDSM was considered a mental illness. How that affects you, depends on where you live and what your situation is.

When members of several Dutch Fetlife groups went into overdrive because kink was no longer considered a mental illness, I wondered why. Being classified as sane in the pshyciatry manual is not the same as acceptance from the general public. Whatever, I thought. Then one day I read about parents whose sexual preferences were used against them in divorce court. Now that is nasty. If not for them, it certainly was an undesirable outcome for their children. Crazy real-world stuff happened and the definition of BDSM in the DSM often caused more harm than all the kink in their life ever will.

Physical injuries are much easier to diagnose than mental ones and I often wondered if you can properly diagnose mental illnesses at all. A bunch of guidelines seems to be more than inapt. More often than not they reflect the times you live in. At one stage homosexuality was considered an illness.

At first the psychiatric community defined alternative sexual behaviour as pathological – causing mental or physical distress. Over the years its views on BDSM became more nuanced. Separating behaviour from mental illness, kink was considered a problem only if your sexual preferences impact your life negatively.

When the DSM V came out in May 2013 it relaxed the definition even more. “A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.” A paraphilia is a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities.

Of course I am still wondering how you can identify non-consensual sexual sadist from consensual kinksters, but for the most part that question is irrelevant. The good thing about the declassification is that people can enjoy their kink and be a good parent at the same time. After all isn’t that what every parent wants: his children free to live the life they want?

Read the full article on how the NCSF got BDSM out of the DSM in The Atlantic. I found it through The History of BDSM blog.

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