English Sexual politics

ReviseF65 meets SM Germany

Report from Folsom Europe 2004

In 2004 the federal German organisation BVSM e.V. – Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V. – started the work to remove the diagnoses of Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism from their national version of ICD, International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organisation, WHO. This is important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using stigmatizing national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that WHO will follow suit.

The ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, had important talks with activists from German SM organisations both during Europride in Cologne in 2002, and held a workshop during the Folsom street weekend in Berlin September 3.-6., 2004. This brings hope to intensify the work towards SM/fetish prejudices in general, and the efforts to delete stigmatising SM and Fetish diagnoses from the ICD classification, in special.

ReviseF65 attended Europride in Cologne 2002. Among other things, we had important talks with german SM-activists, and was interviewed by the magazine of SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V.. This organisation is running 15 BDSM-communities within 11 towns in Germany. The SMart-Info brought a lot of information about the ReviseF65 efforts to delete stigmatising SM and Fetish diagnoses from the ICD classification published by the WHO – World Health Organisation.

Three weeks before the first Folsom Europe street fair in Berlin 2004, the ReviseF65 committee got a very warm invitation from the BVSM e.V. – Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V. to meet them at their Folsom Street Fair booth to present and to inform people about our work. This Federal German organisation had been built up in the two years since I last visited Germany.

At a very short notice, together we were able to organise the production of 500 ReviseF65-flyers in both English and German which was distributed by Ole Johnsen and Svein Skeid from the ReviseF65 committee together with Erik Weisdal during the ten hour long Saturday street fair. As if there wouldn´t have been enough work organising the BVSM booth, Raven and Jayneway managed to organise the possibility for Svein to hold a lecture on Sunday, 5th, the day after the Folsom Europe. Within few days they found a space we could use for free and even organised a wonderfull buffet. Nearly 30 SM activists from organisations all over Germany, Austria and Holland visited the lecture and took part in the discussion afterwards. During the talks at the buffet it suddenly came to happen that what was planned as a nice afterhour for the Folsom weekend transformed into a network meeting of SM activists.

Before, during and after our stay in Berlin September 3.-6., 2004, we learned that central SMart-members I talked to in 2002, was founding member of the new federal SM organisation BVSM e.V., and that one of the main goals of BVSM is to work for the deletion of SM and Fetish diagnoses from the national version of the ICD in Germany. Both SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V. and BDSM-Berlin e.V. also support the ReviseF65 project.

This is very important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using their national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that the World Health Organization will follow suit. This far, the diagnoses of Sadomasochism and Transvestism is completely out of use in Denmark since 1995. In the U.S., Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism is considered to be a healthy form of sexual expression as long as it does not impair the daily functioning of the subject.

The Gay Movement more than 30 years ago considered it of fundamental importance to first delete the diagnosis of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), before any further major human rights improvement was possible. If a group is considered mentally ill, very few people will listen to your arguments aiming at reducing prejudice in society.

The ReviseF65 movement apply the same judgement today. We consider unprofessional and stigmatising SM and Fetish-diagnoses as possibly one of the biggest obstacles to the acceptance of our human rights. Abolishing them is a very important step in the effort to reduce prejudices towards the SM-Leather-Fetish-population.

The pansexual ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, sets focus on the lack of scientific basis for today’s diagnoses and tries to stimulate the building-up of an international activist and professional network to delete these diagnoses.

One thing I am sure of. The BDSM community is able to reach our goal ourselves. We are not dependent of the Gay movement. But we can learn from their experiences as I referred to in my lecture during the Folsom weekend. Don’t expect anybody to fight for your freedom from discrimination, if you don’t do it yourself.

Like the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality that is no longer applied by the WHO, the SM and Fetish diagnoses are rarely used in clinical practice as a means to assist people. On the contrary the stigma attached to the diagnoses justifies various forms of harassment and discrimination of this sexual minority by the society. The ReviseF65 group can document that people are losing their jobs, the custody of their children etc., because of their SM-love, lifestyle and self-expression. Much of the discrimination is directly or indirectly a result of the diagnoses.

The ReviseF65 representatives look upon the Folsom Street Fair in general, and the Sunday ReviseF65 lecture in special as a big success. We have got feedback from our German friends that this visit and our contact can lead to closer cooperation and stronger efforts to delete the sm/fetish diagnoses.

All european Leather-SM-Fetish communities were invited to participate. One of the goals with The Folsom Europe Street Fair (like the mother arrangements in the US and Canada) was to strengthen the bonds within the Leather-SM-Fetish community, to raise money to several social projects like hiv and aids, and to reduce SM-Fetish pre-judgements by stepping in to the open public. The arrangement was supported by the City of Berlin, the Berlin Police, the Industrial Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Berlin and the Berlin Tourism Office.

What impressed us Norwegians most, besides all the people at the lecture, the wonderful weather, the very well organised street fair and all the proud and friendly leather/SM people of all colors, interests and sexual orientations, was among other things, the booths with leather- and rubber-men fighting hiv and aids, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Police Officers Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., the police Berlin with it’s contact persons for homosexual lifestyles, and not least all the SM activists at the booths of BVSM e.V., BDSM-Berlin e.V. and SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V. .

Svein Skeid

Leader of the ReviseF65 commitee


Europride Manchester 15-25 August 2003 SM/fetish/leather photo gallery

Some of the pictures can be watched in a bigger version by clicking on them

Photogallery 3 “Ladies and gents”
SM dykes in the Europride parade

SM Dykes and Club Lash for Lasses

Club Lash for Lasses

Company Bar

BELOW: Master and slaves from the leatherbar Company Bar in Manchester‘s Gay Village.

RIGHT: Walking to the gay village after the parade Saturday August 23rd 2003

Rob Manchester

RIGHT: What are they arguing about?

Both pictures from Rob‘s leather collection.

English Seksualpolitikk Sexual politics

Sexual Freedom NOW (published 1996/98)

Testimony from Physicians and Psychiatrists
for the NOW S/M Policy Reform Statement

Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation.

Psychiatrist Susan D. Wagenheim, M.D.

As a board-certified psychiatrist and supporter of the National Organization for Women, I write in support of amending the policy statement on consensual S/M. It is my understanding that S/M practice is a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality. In my private practice, I hear patients tell me frequently that they were “born this way”; ie submissive or dominant in sexual nature. Their experience is that S/M is their sexual ORIENTATION, and they “come out” to themselves much as homosexual and lesbian people do. With that understanding, there is no place in NOW for discrimination against a woman’s right to choose; her right to choose how, when and with whom to express her sexual self.
Charles Moser, Ph.D., M.D.

S/M practitioners have been victimized by society as a whole and by many groups that should know better. There is no credible evidence that S/M practitioners have any more problems or issues than other sexual orientations. There is no data to suggest that S/M leads to violence. All research so far, indicates that S/M practitioners are indistinguishable from individuals with other sexual orientations, except by their sexual behavior. The revision of the NOW policy is long overdue.
June M. Reinisch, Ph.D., with Ruth Beasley, MLS. The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex

St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1990.

“Researchers estimate that 5 percent to 10 percent of the U.S. population engages in sadomasochism for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or staged activities involving no real pain or violence. It appears that many more individuals prefer to play the masochist’s role than the sadist’s. It also appears that males are more likely to prefer sadomasochistic activities than females. This means that male sadists may have difficulty in finding willing masochistic females to be sexual partners.

“If partners are located, an agreement is reached about what will occur. The giving and receiving of actual or pretended physical pain or psychological humiliation occurs in most cares only within a carefully prearranged script. Any change from the expected scenario generally reduces sexual pleasure.

“Most often it is the receiver (the masochist), not the giver (the sadist), who sets and controls the exact type and extent of the couple’s activities. It might also interest you to know that in many such heterosexual relationships, the so-called traditional sex roles are reversed — with men playing the submissive or masochistic role. Sadomasochistic activities can also occur between homosexual couples.”
Havelock Ellis Studies of the Psychology of Sex (early 20th cent)

“The essence of sadomasochism is not so much “pain” as the overwhelming of one’s senses – emotionally more than physically. Active sexual masochism has little to do with pain and everything to do with the search for emotional pleasure.” Ellis believed that culture tries to stifle our “natural impulses, which become expressed through various emotional/physical representations of the heirarchal structure of society.”
Iwan Bloch 
Strange Sexual Practices (1933)

“Sexual abnormalities” were common in ordinary people, and that aberrations and deviations were as essential to life as the “sex impulse” itself. Masochism exists among socially powerful men for whom it was a “liberation from conventional pressure and the professional mask.”
Theodore Reik’s 
Masochism in Modern Man (1941)

“Pleasure is the aim, never to be abolished and the masochistic staging is but a circuitous way to reach that aim. The urge for pleasure is so powerful that anxiety and the idea of punishment themselves are drawn into its sphere.”
Bill Thompson 
Sadomasochism (1994)

“As SM devotees carefully refine these simple acts, by dressing them up in role-play, it is easy to see how they are deliberately manipulating various forms of stimulation in the service of sexual arousal; and how this consenting scene where the submissive’s pleasure is carefully planned is obviously very different from a truly coercive act like rape, which involves aggressive action designed to inflict acute pain on a non-aroused victim.”
Dolf Zillmann (1984) [D. Zillmann along with Park Elliot Dietz are two of the world’s leading authorities on the relationship between sex and aggression.]

“As the arousing capacity of novel partners is likely to fade and acute emotional reactions such as fear and guilt are improbable accompaniments of sexual activity, what can be done to combat the drabness of routine sexual engagements that is expected to result from excitatory habituation? Rough housing, pinching, biting and beating emerge as viable answers. In terms of a theory it is the controlled engagement of pain that holds promise of reliably producing excitatory reaction for transfer into sexual behavior and experience…. Pain then always can be counted on to stir up excitement, however, pain must be secondary to sexual excitedness. It must be dominated by sexual stimulation. Only when thus dominated can it be expected to enhance sexual excitedness.”
Park Elliot Dietz (1990) [P.E. Dietz is a forensic psychologist who consistently tries to point out the absurdity of the link between s/m devotees and psychotic criminals.]

According to Dietz, the five main differences between psychotic sadistic serial murderers and SM devotees:

1. Psychotics search for unwilling partners. S/M devotees use a “safeword” that the submissive can say at any time to end the scene, thus the submissive retains real control throughout the encounter.

2. Psychotics force their acts on the victim rather than aiming at pleasing the submissive (as in s/m). The psychotic sadistic acts are quite different from s/m practices, and usually include: forced anal penetration, forced fellatio, or violent vagina-penetration with various foreign objects -rather than the penis.

3. The sadistic offenders’ demeanor is diametrically opposed to s/m devotees: usually the psychotic is detached and unemotional throughout the torture, while the s/m dominant appears to achieve a “high” or pleasure equivalent during the scene.

4. Psychotic criminals torture their victims, inflicting serious and permanent injury, trying to arouse terror in their victims. S/M devotees skillfully enhance the sexual arousal of their partner, following the rules and guidelines that were established before the scene, thus creating only the illusion that the submissive is not in control.

5. Psychotics usually have a past history of sexual crimes such as rape or incest. S/M devotees are average people who typically don’t have criminal pasts.
The sociologists took their lead from the anthropologist Paul Gebhard, whose 1968 essay “Fetishism and Sadomasochism” undermined the idea of individual pathology by pointing to sadomasochism’s cultural roots, and the futility of defining a widespread and diffuse sexual practice by reference to a few “extreme” examples. He stated that S/M practices were “only prevalent in its organized form in literate societies full of symbolic meanings.” This means that far from being a manifestation of a base instinct, sadomasochism required a considerable amount of intelligence and organization.
1929 Hamilton survey on marriage habits: 28% males and 29% females admitted that they derived “pleasant thrills” from having some form of “pain” inflicted on them.
William A. Henkin, PhD.; November 1992 letter to the committee that advocated changes to the entries on sexual sadism and masochism in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“In conclusion: consensual sadomasochism offers its adherants an opportunity to explore paraphilic urges and fantasies, not in a dangerous or debilitating fashion, but in a safe and supportive manner, where those urges and fantasies can be pleasurably satisfied, and where their values in a person’s psychic life can be revealed.

“Within the past decade prominent clinicians and scholars in the fields of psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, and clinical sexology, eschewing the received wisdom of past masters who south to fit clinical observations to their theories, rather than the other way around, have instead made serious attempts to understand the activities of consensual sadomasochism as well as the dynamic processes that underlie them, and to devise theories that fit the evidence they found in the lab, in the consulting room, and in the field. They have proposed that consensual erotic power play is not a psychiatric disorder: that instead, it can simply be a form of sexual pleasure, and that as a path of psychological and spiritual development it can even be the evidence and experience of triumph over childhood adversity.

“Absent distress, harm, or functional impairment, to define such activity as a mental disorder is to place chains on the human spirit, and to produce a chilling effect on the very processes we as psychotherapists are trained and charged to abet: the healing and liberation of damaged and imprisoned personalities, and their integration in the full creative expression of human beings.”
Dr. William A. Henkin, 1989 presentation to the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (now Sexuality) with Sybil Holiday, published in 1991 as “Erotic Power Play,” Sandmutopia Guardian.

A Clinical Introduction:

“Everyone accomplishes some degree of self-identification in the normal course of growing up. But the process of growing up is one of acculturation as well as one of maturation, so that as we are in the midst of discovering all those special attributes that make us who we are, we are simultaneously being trained to subdue, suppress, or otherwise disown important facets of ourselves. In the ensuing confusion, few people grow up whole. Instead we are to one degree or another dis-integrated, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as being separated into component parts or particles; reduced to fragments; having had our cohesion or integrity broken up. Disintegration is the condition that as adults we either accept or try to alter.

“One of the most direct ways I know for a person to gain access to hidden facets of his self, and hence to move toward integration, is to explore his sexual personas ; and one of the most direct ways I know for a person to explore his sexual personas is to examine the attitudes he brings to sexual activity. But to examine sexual attitudes usually requires more than intellectual assessment: it first needs exposure, practice, and hands-on experience. It also requires a perspective concerning the variety of people’s experiences that is not influenced by cultural norms.”

On negotiation:

“Negotiation includes both initial and ongoing, verbal and non-verbal communications. In erotic power play, negotiation is the underpinning for consensuality: you cannot agree, or consent, to give something if you do not know it has been requested, or to accept something if you do not know it has been offered. In addition, the more completely and openly people negotiate about what they want or have to offer, the more they establish their parity, as it is difficult for unequals to negotiate truly: all parties know that ultimately the person with more inherent power can pull rank.”

On Ritual:

“A major function of ritual is to let us know who we are beyond the confines of our small, individual selves. Baptisms, confirmations, bar and bas mitzvahs, long pants, graduations, marriages – all ceremonies tell us, even as they announce it, who we are to ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, and our world.

“Anthropologists, ethnologists, mythologists, and other psychologists of culture note that where a heritage of meaningful rites of passage does not exist, people will feel enough of a spiritual imbalance to make up rituals of their own. It’s become a cliché that our society offers us a paucity of rituals that touch the spirit, and that those that exist are for the most part competitive or not negotiated: football games, invasions of small islands, and the episodic opportunity to vote for more of the same.

“In erotic power play, rituals of substance can be conceived, developed, and executed in ways that can touch their participants on numerous levels at once: they can be physical, emotional, cognitive, or spiritual; sexual, political, and religious; they are simultaneously as sophisticated and creative as the human imagination can make them, and as basic and primitive as the psyche’s drives for power and sexual fulfillment.”

English Seksualpolitikk Sexual politics

Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population (Revise F65, 2004; NCSF, 1999)

(Some more discrimination cases are included under “Discrimination and stigmatization” on the full index page: Site map!)
Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population (Revise F65, 2004; NCSF, 1999)


A lot indicates that the instances of violence, harassment and discrimination in connection with work, home and custody of children that we are aware of are just the tip of the iceberg. As the situation stands today, it is often spokespeople for SM interest organisations etc. that by the power of their visibility experience discrimination. The pathologising and diagnosis of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are often the direct or indirect cause of these attacks.

As a person interested in SM/fetish, you risk losing your job, custody of your children, problems with neighbours, your innermost circle of friends and your closest family members. This then means that we might not have so many sources of support left in our lives. Many people therefore choose to keep their orientation hidden because of the fear of what could happen if they disclosed this.

As a consequence, many individuals do not report being attacked because of the fear of being further harassed by the police. Even if 36 percent of respondents in the American study described below experience violence and harassment, 96 percent of these didn’t report this. As a taboo minority, SM ers and fetishists also experience a significant degree of suppression and invisibility in society, including in the press. When we are referred to, this is usually in connection with “scandals” where the people in question’s sexual orientation is used as a piquant detail to spice up the story for readers.

Violence and harassment

A study (n=1017) undertaken by the SM rights organisation The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), shows that belonging to the SM community and SM sexual orientation generally speaking means that an individual exposes themselves for being socially stigmatised.

Thirty-six percent of subjects had been subjected to violence or harassment because of their SM/fetish orientation. This included verbal insults (reported by 87%), physical violence (25%), stalking (19%), damage to property (19%), blackmail (17%), sexual harassment (13%), rape (10%) and other types or violence or harassment (7%).

The swedish police department Säpo point our that lesbians and gay men are the group that is exposed to most violence and persecution in Sweden. The worst attacks have happened at events with a theme of SM and fetish. [Norwegian text only]

In Norway, the newspaper Klassekampen (27th July 1990) and the monthly publication Blikk have documented how in 1992 a van with nazi symbols drove round the centre of Oslo threatened and shot at gay leather/SM men.

Nazi attack against RFSL
Nazist violence and murder of homosexuals is a large problem in Sweden. Leather- and SM- gay men are hardest hit.
Source: Qmagazine October 13, 1998 [Swedish text only]

Neo-nazis screamed, “bögjävlar” (“fucking buggers”) and made Nazi salutes to SM/fetish gay men. Nazi vandalism to the offices of the gay organisation RFSL has set off a debate about the risk level, with RFSL demanding that homosexuals should be covered by the law on hate crimes towards minority populations.
Source: Qmagazine October 19, 1997. [Swedish text only]


Thirty percent of individuals in NCSF’s study had experienced discrimination because of their SM orientation, preference or method of expression. Forty percent had experienced harassment, 25% loss of job or contract, 17% loss of promotion, loss of custody of children 3%, denial of membership to an organisation 11%, unauthorised arrest 5%, or other forms of discrimination.

Discrimination by official bodies

Lack of legal security for SM-ers
Denmark: Attacker escapes prosecution. By Ole Martin Larsen. Police in Copenhagen have refused to prosecute a man for rape because the victim is a masochist. The woman herself raised the alarm to police from the man’s home. She was found there by a police patrol, dissolved in tears, chained with both foot- and handcuffs and with blood streaming from cuts in her thighs. Despite this, the police consider that there is not sufficient evidence to convict the man.
“Even if I am a masochist, no still means no, and that should be respected. And I said this clearly, amongst other ways by calling the police. What is my legal security worth if this cannot lead to a conviction”, said the woman, a female doctor, to Berlingske Tidende. She has appealed to the public prosecutor about the police’s decision. According to the sadomasochist’s organization SMil, the case is unique, and raises a fundamental question of whether a no from a masochist has the same value as a no from others. Because of this, SMil considers the matter to be concerned with the legal security o f sexual minorities.

Source: Berlingske Tidende/Arbeiderbladet 22th October 1994.

Murderer goes free because victim was a sadomasochist
In August 1993, an American court of appeal let a brutal murderer free because the victim had written a sadomasochistic fantasy in their diary. In this way, people’s right to consent is placed outside the law because of their sexual orientation, even to the extent that their death has been involved.
Leitner v. State (1983) 631 So. 2d 278-9.

The “sadomasochist” is often seen as having given up h/er rights to protection from violence or abuse. It is clear that homosexual men as prosecution witnesses face similar difficulties in credibility as heterosexual women. In August of 1993, an appellate court released a man convicted of murder because the murder victim had written a long sadomasochistic sexual fantasy in his journal and the trial court had refused this journal entry as evidence at trial. The fantasy is reproduced for the delight of the court in its entirety in the published case. The unspoken implication here is that a man who fantasizes about homosexual sadomasochism has somehow consented to a brutal murder: “The journal excerpt was essential to the appellant’s defense. It suggested Craven may have desired to be involved, and may have been involved in voluntary sadomasochist sex when he was killed. If he suffered from these desires, then he might have sought out an amenable partner”[20] who eventually killed him. (That wasn’t very “amenable” of the partner if you ask me). Again, the law has constituted the sadomasochist as an always-already willing victim, even to the point of death.[21] This opinion also highlights the idea of “voluntary sadomasochistic sex” as a “desire” that one “suffers from,” a common thread in much of this discourse. The official status of “perverse” desire is thus situated as a medical and psychiatric condition that places those “afflicted” beyond the protection of the law and unworthy of inclusion in “civilized” society.

English rapist freed because of victim’s SM orientation
In a rape case heard at Leicester Crown Court in England on 29th November 1994, the defendant was freed even though rapist Ben Emerson had admitted the attack. The discovery of SM toys in the woman’s flat, together with her sexual leaning, led to the rapist being freed. Do we see any similarities here to the general debate concerning rape about “loose” and scantily clad women who are not taken seriously when they say “no”. It is actually the woman’s sexual leaning that stands in the dock, not the perpetrator’s acknowledge attack.
Source: Press Association Newsfile 30th November 1994; “Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case”.

1994: The “crime” of being a pervert: Despite of a self identified rapists confession, on 29 November 1994, a man was found “not guilty” of rape at Leicester Crown Court, because SM-toys was found in the female victim’s apartment. “There can be no doubt from the evidence that what was really on trial during this event was the prosecution witness’s sexuality — the mere existence of an interest in kinky sex made her charge of rape untenable”, writes Ben Attias at the California State University of Northridge, USA. “A woman’s privilege to say “no” to sex is here circumscribed by the discursive apparatus invoked by her sexuality — a woman with an interest in sadomasochism, rubber skirts, and body piercing, judge and jury seem to have reasoned, cannot be raped. Her sexuality implicitly predisposes her to consent to sex — she is inscribed as always already willing.” [Ben Attias] [“Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case,” Press Association Newsfile, 30 November 1994].

Rape Defendant Ben Emerson

Despite this frank confession, Ben Emerson was awarded a verdict of “not guilty” of rape on 29 November 1994, after a two-minute jury deliberation at Leicester Crown Court. The judge commented to the jury, “I wholeheartedly agree with your verdict.” The judge had actually recommended to the jury that it render a quick decision before even hearing the defense’s case: “At the end of the prosecution case the judge summarized the alleged victim’s evidence and reminded the jury how she and Emerson had oral sex without her objecting at her home….the judge told the jury: ‘When he went to get some baby oil to massage her body, what is this young man to think when he finds in the drawer artificial penises, magazines designed to excite sexually? He finds a riding crop near her bed and chains on the bed,” (ibid). After the trial, a friend of Emerson stated, “Justice was served in the end.”

“Justice,” in this case, meant the release of a self-identified rapist because the “alleged” victim had committed the prior crime of being a pervert. There can be no doubt from the evidence that what was really on trial during this event was the prosecution witness’s sexuality — the mere existence of an interest in kinky sex made her charge of rape untenable. A woman’s privilege to say “no” to sex is here circumscribed by the discursive apparatus invoked by her sexuality — a woman with an interest in sadomasochism, rubber skirts, and body-piercing, judge and jury seem to have reasoned, cannot be raped. Her sexuality implicitly predisposes her to consent to sex — she is inscribed as always-already willing. Ben Emerson, quoted in “Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case,” Press Association Newsfile (30 November 1994).

USA: Released after multiple rapes
Donald Kekich, Bruce Battista, Harold Phillips and Daniel Phillips were found not guilty by Ohio’s court of appeal of having carried out rape and mistreatment throughout the night of 14th July 1977. The victim Jane Lucas had been careless enough to write a birthday card to Kekich from which her masochistic interest was clear. By the force of her sexual leaning she was seen as “always willing” and prepared for sex and in practice declared to without the legal capacity to oppose the attack.
Source: [17] State v. Battista, Case Nos. CA 4815 & CA 4816, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth Appellate District, Stark County, Ohio, Slip Opinion 8th November 1978.

On 8 November 1978, an Ohio appellate court handed down a similar verdict to two men accused of rape, felonious assault, and felonious sexual penetration. The court included a detailed description of the events of 14 July 1977 in the court transcript, providing an account of victim Jane Lucas’ testimony “[a]t the risk of memorializing the conduct of the Defendants for the future delight of the sexually perverse.”[17] This invocation of a notion of potential prurient interest in the testimony of the victim is characteristic of the Court’s treatment of the issues involved — outright violence is sexualized and treated as potentially “nonserious” in the serious context of the courtroom.[18]

According to Lucas’ testimony, she drove to Donald Kekich’s apartment with the intention of having sex with him. When they got there, Kekich told her to undress and asked if she needed to use the bathroom. In the bathroom, she was grabbed by a naked man (Howard Phillips, another of the defendants), raped, and severely beaten. Kekich and Phillips continued to rape and beat her for hours, later taking her to the apartment of other friends who joined in her torture, which lasted all night and included being threatened with a shotgun, which was then shoved inside of her while pictures were taken.

The defendants were convicted of “felonious sexual penetration,” but were acquitted of rape and assault on the basis of the discursive apparatus mobilized by the following testimony: “She asked for everything. She asked to blow you, she asked to go to bed with you. I mean, every sex act that happened was through her. I mean came out of her mouth and with each and every guy,” (Bruce Battista). The appellate court vacated convictions on rape and assault charges based on testimony from a friend of Lucas’ that she had overheard Lucas express masochistic fantasies, and the following birthday card sent by Lucas to Kekich, with whom she had a sexual relationship prior to the assault:

“I think you’re a brute, an animal and a Sex Fiend! — And I want you to know I appreciate it! Happy Birthday! To a man who won’t stand anything he doesn’t like, do without anything he desires, or even be polite to people unless they please him. As mean as you are – you will live a century & then some – Happy Birthday, Turkey!

…Love, Janie Lucas”

According to the appellate court, “It is evident in the instant case that Jane Lucas who accompanied Donald Kekich, Bruce Battista, Harold Phillips and Daniel Phillips initially by invitation got much more than she bargained for. However, it is equally obvious from evidence of record and especially from the birthday card admitted as Defendants’ exhibit, supra, that had acts which followed been limited to sexual conduct it would not have been necessary to compel Jane Lucas to submit by force or threat of force and that no charges would have been filed with nothing further being heard of such occurrences.”

Here the mere suggestion that Ms. Lucas might have consented without force to a sado-masochistic sexual relationship is taken as a priori evidence that she cannot legally be raped. Again, her sexuality inscribes her as always-already willing. The appellate court’s conviction of the defendants on charges of “felonious sexual penetration” further indicates that what went wrong on July, 14, 1977, was not so much the violence and terror to which Ms. Lucas was subjected, but rather the introduction of a foreign object into one of her orifices — the defendants, in other words, were convicted of violating a dildo law. (The relevant portion of the law states as follows: “No person without privilege to do so [it is unclear who has this privilege] shall insert any instrument, apparatus, or object into the vaginal or anal cavity of another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (1) The offender purposely compels the other person to submit by force or threat of force…”)


The Spanner case
A hundred years after the case against Oscar Wilde, England has been the only land in Europe to criminalise safe, sane and consenting SM-sex between equal gay partners. Heterosexual sadomasochists have been found not guilty for similar activities. In the European Commission of Human Rights, seven lands voted to free the Spanner gay men, while 11 wanted to convict them. Subsequently the court unanimously followed the majority vote in 1997. The tragedy here is that the Nordic lands would have counted in the balance of votes. If they had supported the Spanner gay men, then the opposite outcome would have been achieved. The Norwegian representative didn’t even turn up to vote. In the English highest court of appeal (1993), the Spanner men were sentenced by three votes to one. The convicted men have received moral and economic support from a collective Norwegian and international gay movement and a range of Norwegian political organisations with many hundreds of thousands of members from both the political left and right. This was a broad mobilisation of people for important principles such as freedom from harassment and not being allowed to work in the public sector, the right to free expression and adult individuals’ right to take their own decisions regarding their bodies and sexuality.

An official appointed British Law Commission in 1995 came to the conclusion that SM or sadomasochism, short of causing serious or permanently disabling injury, should be no crime between consenting adults. – Under the Law Commission’s new proposals, the Spanner men would never have been prosecuted, according to the director of the civil rights group Liberty, John Wadham (Pink Paper December 22, 1995).

Discrimination on the internet

AOL discriminates against gay SM people
Gay rights organisations threatened to boycott internet service provider AOL because America OnLine discriminated against SMers, whilst racists’ and homophobes’ expressions are tolerated. On Monday, demonstrated outside the town hall in San Francisco because AOL had removed the user profile of a SM gay man which included the words “submissive” and “bottom”. Activists warned that this would be just the first in a series of protests if AOL didn’t stop the censorship or throw out the homophobes.
Source: Wired News 25.10.1999.,1367,32106,00.html

SM-censorship on Geocities
The Swedish website Robin1 for lesbians and gay men was censored by Geocities after Robin1 posted up theme pages on fetishism. There was no pornography on the pages. Here, you can read Robins story about the censorship and about his own coming out process as a leatherman. Skeive nyheter December 1997.[Sorry, only in Swedish]

Scandalisation in the press

“Sado-murder” and “sado-rape” are usual headlines when the tabloid press want to bring out the spicy details that are supposed to send a shiver down reader’s spines and sell more papers. Despite modern research having shown that SMers are no more likely to commit crimes, the person’s “sadomasochistic” learning is used as an obvious explanation for why the attack took place. The media do the same as they used to with homosexuals in terms of how they build up stereotypes. It is exactly this kind of media blunder that was in our time the reason that in 1981 an anti-discrimination law was passed in Norway relating to gay men and lesbians (Else Bugge Fougner and Berthold Grünfeld in Norway’s Offentlige Utredninger (NOU) om strafferettslig vern for homofile, 1979).

One of many possible examples, the case described here is the witch hunt against the SM-er and weapons inspector Harvey McGeorge.

Witch hunt against human rights activist
The American weapons inspector Harvey McGeorge (53) was scandalised and ridiculed in the press throughout the world because he had worked to inform people about safe, sane and consenting SM sex. The weapons inspector’s Swedish boss, Hans Blix, stated however that McGeorge’s private life was not relevant to his position as a weapons inspector. Source: Smia-info 30th November 2002. [mostly Norwegian. One English link]

Loss of job

There are many examples where fetishists and SM-ers lose their jobs because of their SM interest and orientation. Others are threatened with dismissal if they continue to inform people publicly about the group’s human rights.

A survey among readers of “The Leather Journal” in 2001 could indicate that one in four fetishists experiences discrimination at work.

A study undertaken by the SM rights organisation The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NCSF, shows that one in 13 SM-ers had lost their job because of their orientation.

Threatened with dismissal
”Lasse”. In 1996, Oslo local authority threatened to dismiss a 22 year-old Norwegian bisexual male musician from his job in a free theatre group for children if he did not stop giving out information about fetishism in the media. The man was at this point a committee member in the Norwegian fetish organization Colorful People and had taken part in a debate on fetishism on ZTV. The man chose to sacrifice his freedom of expression in order to keep his job.
Source: Personal documentation.

Dismissal of temporary worker
”Kjersti”. In December 2000, a 26 year-old Norwegian heterosexual woman lost her temporary job as a salesperson in an insurance company in Eastern Norway because of her openness about her SM-orientation. This occurred despite the fact that she had completed internal training with the best results of the entire new intake of temporary staff. At a teambuilding seminar, participants were invited to tell their colleagues something about themselves that the others didn’t know about. The woman wondered whether to tell them about her interest in SM, but felt that this would not be quite right and therefore chose to contribute something else. Later the same evening, after dinner had been eaten and the atmosphere was more relaxed, she opened up to two or three of her colleagues and told them a bit about her interest in SM. This was met with good humour and taken as something “cool” by the colleagues, and in the first couple of weeks back at the office, this was joked about with “kinky” jokes in breaks, especially between the woman and these colleagues. The team leader heard the jokes, but did not share in the humour. Two weeks later, the woman was dismissed. The boss blamed this on the firm’s financial situation and said that he had taken on too many new employee s. However, the consultant in the deputy agency that had sent her to the firm in the first place afterwards gave her a friendly hint not to be so open about private matters in her next job. Two months later, the insurance company advertised again for new temporary staff for its sales team – temporary work with the possibility of permanent employment. The woman chose not to fight for her job, in the belief that she was only a temporary worker and therefore did not have the same rights as a permanent employee. Additionally, she would have been labeled as a troublemaker and would perhaps have missed out on the possibility of getting work through the temping agency in the future.
Source: Personal documentation

Dismissal of teacher at primary school
“Eros”. Norway, place unknown, 2003. A person of unknown sex, aged between 20 and 40 years. The person worked as a teacher in a primary school and is active in the Norwegian SM scene. In the course of the first few months in 2003, members of the local community around the school worked became aware of the person in question’s SM preferences. The person in question had not “come out” by themselves; this knowledge being made public was due to gossip behind their back. The gossip reached the school’s administration and the person received a sharp reaction from the school’s leadership: they were dismissed from their position at the school. It is hopeless to take up the fight again a dismissal like this. Such dismissals are clearly against the law, but should a person win a case against their employer, it would be just about impossible for the person to return to their workplace. The possibilities are all too great that the remaining employees would be in possession of misinformation and prejudices which would mean that they would not look upon that person as unsuitable to work with children, and as a result would “freeze” them out within the workplace.

Lost children because of SM diagnosis
“Hilde”. In 1997, a 42–year-old Norwegian woman in Eastern Norway let herself be pressured by her own lawyer to give up her custody of her two daughters after her divorce. The lawyer considered that the woman had a poor legal case because SM is defined as a psychiatric illness in Norway. This happened after her ex-husband got hold of the woman’s holiday photographs which showed her interest in SM – sado-masochism. He passed the photographs on to his lawyer. The children were also informed about the woman’s orientation. Today, the woman lives almost 40 Norwegian miles (400 kilometres/248 English miles) away from her children, but has partially regained contact with them after many years without contact.
Source: SMil-bladet, no. 2, 2002.

Children lost their father for 10 years
“Severin”. In 1983, a 39-year-old Norwegian man, who had been open with his wife of 12 years about his homosexual SM-orientation, lost shared custody rights of his three children (6, 10 and 12 years) because of his fetish- and SM-orientation. The smallest details of the man’s private sexual life was described by his ex-wife and her new husband in the court case (with jury). After this, he did not see his children for 10 years, until them became old enough to themselves make contact with him. Today, the man has a good relationship to them. An important element of the case is that the man was granted visitation rights to the children, something that was sabotaged by his ex-wife throughout the years of separation from his children.
Source: Personal documentation.

SM-preference does not affect caring ability
“Janne”. A 28-year-old Norwegian heterosexual woman had her parental rights to her two small boys under the age of six withdrawn in 2000 after she had asked the Child Protection department for help after the break-up of her partnership with the children’s father. Her ex-partner later became aware of her new interest in SM via an unknown source and informed the Child Protection department of this. SM-orientation was taken as a sign of illness and that the woman was not fit to be a parent. She was also reported for inadequate parenting of her children. The ”judgment” on the loss of parental rights including the woman’s SM-orientation, was announced by the Child Protection department in the presence of the children. After this, the woman was only allowed to have the children for between one and a half to two hours, one or two times a month, under supervision. She was not allowed to see the children in her own home. It became clear in the time following the judgment that the children had not received inadequate parenting from the woman, but instead one or both were born with a mild learning difficulty, which made him/them somewhat more demanding than unaffected children. The woman has employed a lawyer who is pursuing the case. The woman also wishes that something good should come out of the whole affair; namely that experts used in comparative cases in the future should intuitively know that the sexual preferences of adults – what one enjoys together with one’s partner – has nothing to do with a person’s qualities as a parent.
Source: Personal documentation.

Trashing: SM women harassed by other women

As with other types of attack, it looks as if women are especially vulnerable. According to the Jad Keres report from 1994, 56% of lesbian or bisexual women have experienced discrimination and violence from other women in the lesbian scene because of their interest in SM

One quarter of the sm women surveyed were physically assaulted by members of the lesbian community.

Discrimination within the lesbian community affects 30% of the women surveyed because of their sm orientation, including being ejected or refused admittance from a public accommodation, denied housing, and/or refused membership in a social, recreational, political, educational or spiritual lesbian group.

The lesbian author Pat Califia (Patrick Califa-Rice) in an interview with the Swedish paper Homoplaneten describes the harassment “trashing” of American SM activists:

“SM lesbians are beaten up and closed out from women’s social meeting places. Our literature is burned, they call our employers and say that we are perverts so that we lose our jobs”.
Source: “Samtaler med Pat Califia” [Talks with Pat Califia]. RFSL 12.10.1998.

Things show that trashing where the most radical feminists harass women also happens in Norway. SM lesbians here too are denied entry to women’s social meeting places.

“Banners that express support of SM go against the basis guidelines for
having banners and the “8th of March”- days intentions and are therefore unacceptable in the parade.
Decision of the 8th of March committee in Oslo on 20th February 1997.
Source: Letter and telephone call from 8. mars-komiteen 1997.

A 32-year old lesbian woman was in 1997 outed and publicly exhibited as an SM‘er at her place of work by a Norwegian extreme radical feminist. The 32-year-old had taken part in a newspaper debate on SM and arranged a meeting on this theme. The feminist participated in a educational gathering at the woman’s workplace. The 32-year-old was not at the gathering, but figured as a therapist on a video used in the session. The feminist recognised the lesbian women on the video and said in front of the victim’s colleagues, head of department and representatives from other institutions “It is shocking that this woman works as a therapist when she is an SM-er”.
When the lesbian woman came back to work after the weekend, shocked colleagues told her what had been said. The victim felt that she had to turn up at a meeting of all the employees and prepared herself for the fact that she might no longer be able to work there. After this, the situation calmed down and the woman no longer works there.
Source: personal documentation

It can seem as if certain feminists systematically teach women to fear SM women and SM lesbians. The same 32-year-old mentioned above also experienced in 1995 that a colleague at an institute for outreach work with young people refused to work with the SM woman “because she couldn’t feel safe with the woman’s attitude towards violence”. The woman was called in by her boss in connection with the matter, but he didn’t have any problems with the SM lesbian’s sexual orientation. Neither did the third person in the team, a muslim American, have problems with this. The woman was at that time the leader of an SM rights organisation.
Source: personal documentation.

English Professional work

World Psychiatric Association – Symposium S08.5

World Psychiatric Association International Thematic Conference
“Diagnosis in Psychiatry: Integrating the Sciences”
Vienna, Austria June 19-22, 2003

Symposium SO8.5
Classification of Sexual Disorders
WPA Section “Psychiatry and Human Sexuality”
Friday, 20 June, 2003

I World Psychiatric Association diskuteres det ulogiske i kriteriene for tre ICD-10 diagnosene F65.0 Fetisjisme, F65.1 Fetisjistisk transvestittisme og F65.5 Sadomasochisme slik de nå er oppført, og man må forvente en betydelig endring av diagnosene ved neste revisjon av den internasjonale diagnosemanualen ICD-10, som utgis av Verdens Helseorganisasjon.

Spesialist i psykiatri, og faglig medlem av LLHs Diagnoseutvalg, Reidar Kjær, deltok 19.-22. juni 2003 på diagnosekongressen til World Psychiatric Association (WPA) i Wien i forbindelse med den forestående revisjon av diagnosemanualen ICD-10. Det er WPA som er den viktigste fagorganisasjon i revisjonsarbeidet med psykiatridelen av World Health Organization’s diagnoseliste som er offisiell liste i Norge.

Reidar Kjær deltok blant annet med foredraget:
”Do we need all the Paraphilias?” Det var plassert i symposiet Classification of Sexual Disorders (S08.5) og ble avholdt fredag 20.juni i kongressenteret i Hofburg i Wien.

Sammendrag (abstrakt) av Kjærs foredrag:

”Do we need all the Paraphilias?”
The ICD-10 diagnoses F-65.0 (fetishism), 65.1 (fetishistic transvestism) and 65.5 (sadomasochism) are no longer used in everyday Norwegian Psychiatry. But they still figure in the International and National ICD-10 manual. This paper addresses the pros et contras in the ongoing discussion about the revision of the diagnoses. A possible approach could be that national health authorities formally decided not to use these diagnoses, as was done in Denmark with 65.5 in 1995, and propose to delete them from the ICD list at the next revision. Parts of this discussion can be followed on the website

Abstraktene til denne konferansen ble trykket i et særnummer av bladet World Psychiatry som er Official Journal of The World Psychiatric Association.
WPA har mer enn 150.000 psykiatere som medlemmer fordelt på 106 medlemsland.


English Professional work

Psychological Surrender

Is Sadomasochism a mental pathology?
From Kraft-Ebing to Carl Jung, through years of research on the ground, Dorothy Hayden express her conclusion about masochism. The proposal for a new Psychological approach to BDSM.


By Dorothy C. Hayden, CSW

“Proud to be a perv”. Picture from SM Pride 2003 in London by Svein Skeid.62AkselProudPerv7

A number of years ago, in connection with my work with sexual addiction, a number of lifestyle submissives started coming to me for treatment. Some of these people were extremely hesitant to discuss their reasons for seeking therapy; they were so ashamed of their fantasies and behaviors that it took years of working with them until I knew their real names or their telephone numbers. Patients who able to be forthcoming about their masochistic behaviors and fantasies were as confused as I was. One of my patients, giving me a written masochistic fantasy after months of resistance, said, “Here it is. This is what I came to therapy for. It’s terrible. It’s sick. It’s wonderful. I hate it; it’s my favorite fantasy. I can’t stand it, I love it. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to stop it.”

Learning about the world of S&M has been an invaluable experience to me. I had to admit to myself that, viewed from the perspective of what I knew about the nature of the individual self, masochism puzzled me by flying in the face of everything that was rational about the nature of the human personality. People want to be happy and to avoid pain and suffering. They seek to maintain and increase their control over themselves and their surroundings. And they desire to maintain and increase their prestige, respect, and esteem. Viewed from the perspective of these three principles about the self, masochism is a startling paradox. The self is developed to avoid pain, but masochists seek pain. The self strives for control, but masochists seek to relinquish control. The self aims to maximize its esteem, but masochists deliberately seek out humiliation.


I heard stories of whips, canes, racks, cock-and-ball torture, dripping wax on naked skin, electronic devices designed to deliver just the right amount of pain, the difficulty of finding the right mistress, and the surprising number of “dungeons” that existed within a few block radius of my mid-town office. Time and again, men would talk of the frustration of being unable to entice their wives or partners, who found these sexual activities to be perverse, into engaging in the sexual behaviors that they most longed for. I suspected that there was a vast number of people who felt tremendous shame and isolation about masochistic submissive longings. I decided to check the clinical literature on masochism to better arm myself with some psychodynamic understanding of why these men, who so often felt shame-bound, were so keen to be dominated, hurt, tortured and humiliated by strong, dominate women.

This is what my research revealed: According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, (the shrink’s bible), anyone who engages regularly in masochistic sex is mentally ill by definition. There is a long tradition of regarding masochism as the activity of mentally ill sick individuals. Freud described masochism as a perversion. One of his followers linked masochism to cannibalism, criminality, necrophilia and vampirism. Another analyst said that all neurotics are masochistics. In short, clinical perspectives have regarded masochists as seriously disturbed.


Krafft-Ebing, the nineteenth-century psychiatrist who coined the term, subsumed masochism under the broad heading of “General Pathology” in this famous volume, Psychopath Sexualize, in 1876. Masochism became a pathological, sexual and psychopathic phenomenon all at once.

“By masochism I understand a particular perversion of the psychical sexual life in which the individual affected, in sexual feeling and thought, is controlled by the idea of being completely and unconditionally subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex; of being treated by this person as a master — humiliated and abused. This idea is colored by lustful feeling; the masochist lives in fantasies, in which he creates situations of this kind and often attempts to realize them. By this perversion his sexual instinct is often made more or less insensible to the normal charms of the opposite sex – incapable of a normal sexual life – psychically impotent.”

It has become practically a dogma of psychoanalytic thought that masochism is a sexual condition in which punishment is required before satisfaction can be reached. Freud understood the phenomenon as resulting from an “unconscious feeling of guilt” as “a need for punishment by some parental authority. Writing in 1919, Freud found the genesis and reference point for masochism in the Oedipus-complex. Masochism, he said, actually begins in infantile sexuality, when the wish for the incestuous connection with mother or father must be repressed. Guilt enters at this point, in connection with incestuous wishes. The parent figure then becomes the dispenser of punishment instead of love and appears in desires for beating, spanking, etc. The fantasy of being beaten becomes the meeting place between the sense of guilt and sexual love. Whether it involves literal pain or not, the punishment desired by the masochist is enjoyed in and of itself. Punishment and satisfaction both give pleasure – and humiliation. Freud, in referring to masochism as a “perversion”, cemented it forever in the ghetto of the aberrant and deviant.

My research, however, did not jibe with my clinical reality. The people who presented to me were not immature or inferior. In fact, the reverse seemed to be the case. Masochists are more likely to be successful by social standards: professionally, sexually, emotionally, culturally, in marriages or out. They are frequently individuals of inner strength of character, possessed of strong coping skills with an ethical sense of individual responsibility. A famous study of the “sexual profile of men in power” found to the researchers’ surprise, a high quantity of masochistic sexual activity among successful politicians, judges and other important and influential men.


It became obvious to me that psychology’s theories of masochism were obsolete. In the 1960’s, homosexuality was deleted from the DSMIV and was recognized not as a pathology, but as a lifestyle choice.

It is my contention that the same should be done with masochism and that, like homosexuality, it needs to be removed from the rubric of “psychopathology” and be seen for what it is: a sexual lifestyle choice. It is the intention of this paper to suggest ways of understanding masochism without invoking theories of mental illness.

The questions, however, remained. I puzzled as to why so many men, raised in a culture that valued masculine initiative, assertiveness, and dominance, want to be relieved of these qualities and surrender their will to a strong, dominant woman who might torture, control and humiliate them. What was the basis of this compelling urge to surrender and serve, to relinquish control, to accept physical pain and emotional humiliation?

As I listened to my patients over the years, I began to see masochism less as a sexual aberration and more as a metaphor through which psyche speaks of its suffering and passion.

There was a definite connection between suffering and pleasure the intrigued me.

Clients spoke of the rapturous delight in submission, the worship, in wild abandon and the deliverance from the confining bondage of “normalcy”.

Ritualized suffering seemed to be a way of giving meaning and value to human infirmities. After all, there is no paucity of suffering in human life. None of us need go looking for pain. The suffering of helplessness, disappointment, loss, powerlessness and limitation, is a part of the human condition. It is my hunch that there is something like a universal need, wish or longing for surrender completely to certain aspects of human life and that it assumes many forms. This passionate longing to surrender comes into play in at least some instances of masochism. Submission, losing oneself to the power of the other, becoming enslaved to the master is the ever-available lookalike to surrender.


Submissives speak of a quality of liberation, freedom and expansion of the self in a scene as a situation similar to the letting down of defensive barriers. They speak of the experience of complete vulnerability. I believe that buried or frozen, is a longing for something in the environment to make possible surrender, a sense of yielding of the false self. The false self is an idea developed by a famous psychoanalyst who posited that most parents need their children to behave in circumscribed ways in order for the child to receive their love. For a child, parental love is a matter of survival, and so the child forges a “self” that they think will ensure parental love and approval. The false self is usually a “caretaker” self. A Scene sometimes allows for years of defensive barriers that support the false self to be broken through. It carries with it a longing for the birth of the true self. Deep down we long to give up, to “come clean”, as part of a general longing to be known or recognized. The prospect of surrender may be accompanied by a feeling of dread and or relief or even ecstasy. It is an experience of being “in the moment”, totally in the present. Its ultimate direction is the discovery of one’s identity, one’s sense of self, of one’s sense of wholeness, even one’s sense of unity with other living beings. Joyous in spirit, it transcends the pain that evokes it. One’s exquisite pain is sometimes akin to mystical ecstasy. Within the context of that surrender, a self-negating submissive experience occurs in which the person is enthralled by the dominant partner. The intensity of the masochism is a living testimonial of the urgency with which some buried part of the personality is screaming to be released. The surrender is nothing less than a controlled dissolution of self-boundaries.

The deeper yearning is the longing to be reached, known and accepted in a safe environment which narcissistic, dysfunctional or preoccupied parents were unable to provide the child at a young age.

Fantasies of being raped, which are very common, can have all manners of meanings. Among them, one will almost always find, sometimes deeply buried, a yearning for deep surrender. The submissive longs for and wishes to be found, recognized, penetrated to the core, so as to become real, or, as one analyst says it “to come into being.”


In addition to the longing to surrender into a truer sense of self, masochistic behaviors have another meaning. People need and take delight in fantasy production. Ask the Disneyland folk who cater to adults as much as to children. Scenes have tremendous potential for potentiating fantasy. Costumes, rituals, scenarios, an endless variety of sex props, and elaborate sets reveal of the richness the creative inner life and speak to the very real human need for fantasy play. The fantasies are the carriers of a full spectrum of human feelings: to control, to be controlled, to tease, to be teased, to play, to please, and to achieve solace from the confines of the mundaness of ordinary life. They represent the suspension of normal reality that is an occasional necessity for all healthy people.

Probably the last thing masochism appears aimed at is balance. In keeping with its paradoxical nature, masochism provides not so much a state of weakness, but a sense of surrender, receptivity and sensitivity. Masochism is the condition of submitting fully to an experience, which counters lives that, in our Western society, are ego-centered, constrained, rational, and competitive. Strength can be a terrible burden. It is a constraint, which can be relieved in moments of abandonment, of letting down and letting go. So it is hardly surprising that the pull of masochistic experiences should be so strong in a culture the overvalues ego strength at the expense of a fuller experience of all dimensions of psychic life.

In conclusion, I believe that therapists need to radically alter their approach to doing psychotherapy with masochistic patients. My colleagues complain that masochists are difficult to “cure”. Perhaps because the paradigm from which these therapists operate are faulty. The recognition of value and meaning in the desire to suffer humiliation runs counter to the prevailing attitude in psychology. The main thrust of modern theory and practice has been toward ego psychology. The values of psychotherapy have been aimed, for the most part, at building strong, coping, rational problem-solving egos. Ego-values are certainly worthy ones, yet it costs something to gain strength, to cope, to be rational and to solve problems. This may account for the dissatisfaction many people feel after years of psychotherapy. Building a strong ego is only one side of the story; it neglects other, crucial parts of the human psyche. Modern psychology has been in large measure dominated by helping people develop independence, strength, achievement decisive action, coping and planning. What’s missing is attention to the more subtle dimensions of soul.


The psychoanalyst most in tuned with the missing element in psychotherapeutic work with masochism is Carl Jung. Masochism may be imagined as cultivation of what Jung called the “shadow” – the darker, mostly unconscious part of the psyche which he regarded not as a sickness, but as an essential part of the human psyche. The shadow is the tunnel, channel, or connector through which one reaches the deepest, most elemental layers of psyche. Going through the tunnel, or breaking the ego defenses down, one feels reduced and degraded. Usually, we try to bring the shadow under the ego’s domination. Embracing the shadow, on the other hand, provides a fuller sense of self-knowledge, self-acceptance and a fuller sense of being alive. Jung’s idea of the shadow involves force and passivity, horror and beauty, power and impotence, straightness and perversion, infantilism, wisdom and foolishness. The experience of the shadow is humiliating and occasionally frightening, but it is a reduction to life&Mac220;to essential life, which includes suffering, pain, powerlessness and humiliation. Submission to masochistic pain, loss of control and humiliation serves to embrace our shadow rather than deny it. The result is the achievement of an inner life that accepts and embraces all aspects of our selves and allows us to live with a deeper sense of our true selves.

In conclusion, the psychotherapeutic community needs to re-examine masochistic submissions to see it not as a pathology but as a healthy vehicle for surrendering fixed defense mechanisms, for relinquishing control to something or someone greater than themselves, for achieving freedom from the pervasive and relentless need to cultivate, promote and assert the self, for gaining some relief from having to make innumerable choices and decisions, for engaging in healthy fantasy enactments, and for the exploration, acknowledge and acceptance the “darker” or “shadow” side of their personalities. In addition, many patients speak of achieving a loss of self-awareness that they describe as ecstasy or bliss in which the individual transcends his normal limits and ceases to be aware of self in ordinary terms.

A travesty of our profession is that we continue to try to “cure” a systems of beliefs and behaviors that enrich and enlivens the lives of so many people. The continuing pathologizing of masochism by keeping it in the DSMIV as a psychopathology and by most therapists’ efforts to “cure” masochists is in part responsible for the continued , shame, isolation and low self-esteem of these creative, spontaneous and courage people who want to be afforded the dignity of choosing their own form of non-exploitative sexuality.


Dorothy Hayden, MBA, CSW, received her masters degree in clinical social work from New York University and has received advanced clinical training at the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health. She is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City.

You can contact her with the E-mail:
Dorothy Hayden, CSW
209 East 10th Street #14
New York, NY

Web site:

English Professional work


This study, presented at the 16th World Congress of Sexology in Cuba 10-14 March, 2003, suggests that non-conventional sexual practices cannot be used as a diagnosed criteria of any kind, whichmeans that the only aspect that distinguishes these individuals from others is their sexual practices.

Author: Maria Cristina Martins, Clinical Psychologist and Specialist in Human Sexuality. Campinas, SP, Brazil

Co-author: Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, PhD in Psycopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII, Paris, France; Appointed Professor of the Psychology Dep. of Pontifice Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.


The Internet became one more vehicle where people, occasionally or routinely, may enjoy or accomplish sexual fantasies and desires, often unconfessable and frustrated in their love and sexual relationships, safely and anonymously, without their real identities being revealed.

Similarly, the Internet provides opportunities for men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, marital status or age, and with distinct sexual preferences, to make come true, in the “real” world, a contact started and kept through online communication (Martins & Grassi, 2001).

Starting from the premise that the definition of “normality” is historically and culturally built, concepts such as “normal”, “healthy” and “pathological” are being questioned by all professionals who are interested in the study and comprehension of human sexuality.

The innumerable manifestations of human sexuality, so as the most varied searches for pleasure, confirm once more that, for the human being, sexuality is not linked to procreation.

The dynamics of human sexuality – what leads an individual to have the sexuality one has – has been an object of study since ancient times, without a consent being reached, which has lead to the search of new paradigms for understanding the so-called “deviant” sexual behaviors.

One of the reasons that make the comprehension of unconventional sexual interests difficult is that the traditional sexual paradigm, based on psychology and psychiatry, as well as on popular opinion, assumes that procreation is the most important biological function (Fog, 1992).

Most collected and studied data about so-called “deviant” behaviors were based on cases considered pathological.

Such studies were made under the legal medical view, or having as reference people who sought for psychiatric and/or psychological treatment because their sexual preferences “deviated” from “normal” sexual behavior (Ceccarelli, 2000) – understood as heterosexual relationship, ending on genital penetration and with the intention of procreating.

Certain so-called “deviant” practices, such as Sexual Sadism and Masochism and also Fetishism, are categorized as “paraphilias” and disfunctional behaviors in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (Fourth Edition), DSM-IV, by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems – 10th revision (1999), by the World Health Organization, which has generated many debates regarding diagnostic criteria, with which many professionals who are interested in the study of “alternative” sexual practices do not agree.

This study aims to explore human sexuality in its most diverse variations such as BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism) or SM, and Fetishism, through an online questionnaire sent to a group of people who describe themselves as BDSM and Fetish practitioners, and who have in the Internet their referential for the exchange and search of information, as well as the search for partners who share the same sexual fantasies.

This study has no intention of encouraging or condemning the choice of sexual practices, but of exploring the diversity of adult human sexuality of a group of people in the context of the contemporary Brazilian society.


An e-mail was sent to the various discussion groups and classified ads posted on websites directed to consensual BDSM and Fetish practitioners in Brazil, and who use the Internet as a means of exchanging and obtaining information and contact with people who share the same sexual fantasies. The exploratory character of the study was explained, that it would be conduced basically via e-mail, and that the real identity of the participants would be preserved. Those who were interested should be over 18 years old, their sexual orientation or marital status notwithstanding. It was asked to the volunteers that they got in touch by replying the sent e-mail. One hundred and eleven people from various Brazilian states manifested their interest in participating. They were sent, then, a questionnaire with questions such as why they used the Internet, which sexual practices they were involved in, how and when they became interested in sexual activities that were considered “different” and how they felt about having pleasure with practices that are considered unconventional.

Information on their age, religious formation, sex, marital status, education and sexual orientation were also the object of interest for the research. It was not the aim of the present study to establish diagnostic criteria of the researched sample, or describing in details the unconventional sexual practices.


In spite of the growing evolution observed along the years in human sciences and in the technologic and scientific fields, sexuality is still the object of much speculation, prejudice and taboo. If we observe the diverse current reactions in face of sexual manifestations, we will see how much such reactions remain unchanged throughout History. Although the sixties‘ “sexual revolution” and the innumerous movements aiming at the recognition of human rights (especially the feminist) have changed the social scenery, sexuality is still an enigma for the human being and the object of many discussions since antiquity.

From the 5th Century on, due mainly to the leading Christian Fathers – Augustine, Jerome and Thomas of Aquinas – sexuality was linked to and procreation: the unquestionable example that follows is the “naturally heterosexual” life of animals. All sexual practice that falls out of that norm would bring what is known as the “negative pleasure stigma”.

Then, a form of morality that is essentially a sexual morality appeared. Practices “against nature” – considered offensive to decency, to custom and to public opinion – bring out severe sanctions, so that “normal” may be kept.

However – History shows that – such an objective was never reached: sexuality always escaped all attempts of normatization (Ceccarelli, 2000).

In the late 19th Century, the contemporary psychiatric discourse appears, marked by the same moralistic view;

it maintains the theological and juridical positions, bringing to the medical order what was, until then, from the juridical. The great psychopatologists of that epoch, among them Havellock-Ellis (1888) and Kraftt-Ebing (1890), classified and labeled the sexual practices that escaped moral rules.

A detailed inventory of the so-called “deviant” sexualities was traced, in which new forms of sexual practices (those which use the other for obtaining pleasure and in which the natural finality of sexuality – procreation – is subverted) were created: homosexualism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, sadism, masochism, joining the endless psychiatric nosography of that time. It is also when some terms, that later became classical, are introduced: perversion (1882, Charcot and Magna), narcisism (1888, Havellock-Ellis), auto-erotism (1899, Havellock-Ellis), sadism and masochism (1890, Krafft-Ebing) [Ceccarelli, 2000].

In the late 19th Century and, in a stronger way, in the early 20th Century, Sigmund Freud, in his most important text on sexuality, the “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” published in 1905, sustains that subordinating sexuality to the reproductive function is “a too limited criterion”. In Freudian perspective, sexuality is against nature, that is, as far as sexuality is concerned, there is no “human nature” (Ceccarelli, 2000).

Joyce McDougall and the concept of “Neo-Sexuality”

Contemporary author Joyce McDougall (1997) made an important and innovative reading of Freud, regarding perversion. According to the theoretical perspective of the author, the word “perversion” has a depreciative conotation and points towards negativity, since one never hears of someone who was “perverted” to good. The author maintains that, besides the moralistic implication in the vernacular use of the word, the current standard of psychiatric and psychoanalytic classification is equally questionable. When labeling and diagnosing someone as “neurotic”, “psychotic”, “psychosomatic” or “perverted”, the innumerable variations of psychic structures of each clinical category are not taken into account, losing sight of the most remarkable aspect of human beings in their genetic structure, which is their “singularity” (McDougall, 1997, p 186). Regarding the so-called perverted sexualities like fetishism and sadomasochist practices, she verifies that those occur in the quality of erotic games in sexual activities of non-perverted adults, be they heterosexual or homosexual, so that such practices do not provoke conflict, for they are not experienced as compulsive or as exclusive conditions for sexual pleasure. But heterosexual or homosexual adults who only have fetishist or sadomasochist erotic scripts, for whom those sexual practices are the only means of access to sexual relations, there must be care as to want those people to lose their heterodox versions of desire, simply because they may be considered symptomatic. Instead of “perversion”, McDougall (1997, p 188) prefers to name them “neo-sexualities”. According to the author, the term “perversion” would be more appropriated as a label for acts in which an individual imposes personal desires and conditions on someone who does not wish to be included in that sexual script (as in the case of rape, of voyeurism and exhibitionism) or seduces a non-responsible individual (as a child or a mentally disturbed adult) [McDougall, 1997, p 192].

English Professional work

Bullough about sadomasochism

Bullough about sadomasochism:
According to the American historian and sexologist Vern L. Bullough (picture),
vern_bulloughsadomasochism is about absolutely voluntaryness, reciprocity and equality. “Most sadomasochists live a entirely normal and law-abiding life gaining the society. You will not be able to indentify them neither in the street, nor at the workplace”, he says.
– Sadomasochism as a stimulating sex play, is very different from destructive and harmful violence, Bullough told “Fri Tanke”, the periodical of The Norwegian Humanist Association [Human Etisk Forbund], April 1997.

According to Bullough, sadomasochism was neither an illness nor a sin before the Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing published the book Psychopathia sexualis in 1886 and later editions (Bullough, V. L., & Bullough, B., 1977. Sin, sickness & sanity. New York: Garland Publishing).

Vern L. Bullough (1928-2006), among many awards, have received the Alfred Kinsey Award for distinguished sex research.

English Seksualpolitikk Sexual politics

Mandate, background and some of the Revise F65 efforts since 1994

Revise F65:
Professional and health political work 1994-2009

NB: LLH in 2016 changed its name to FRI – The Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity.


The award-winning work to remove SM and fetish diagnoses is groundbreaking because health care professionals and human rights activists cooperate across sexual orientation and across borders to lay a foundation and set the premises for a pioneering human rights reform.

By Svein Skeid

The ReviseF65 committee is a subsidiary of LLH, the Norwegian LGBT Association, with a political mandate from all the biennial LLH National Conventions since 1996. ReviseF65 also has a mandate from the international lesbian and gay movement (ILGA 1999), The European leather club confederation (ECMC 2000) and the federal German SM organization (BVSM e.V. 2004). 

The LLH mandate

The purpose of Revise F65 is to remove Fetishism, Transvestism and Sadomasochism as psychiatric diagnoses from the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and translated into national versions world wide (mandate from the 1996 biennial national convention of LLH).

The mandate was based on a national survey conducted among the nearly two thousand lesbian and gay members of LLH, “rejecting discrimination of leather, SM and transgender people, and judging this diversity as a valuable resource” (according to the 1998 LLH convention).

According to the 2000 LLH convention (picture), Revise F65 “shall establish a professional basis for the work and lobbying official authorities to remove the diagnoses.”

At the 2004 LLH convention, the Revise F65 mandate was explicitly expressed in the organization’s political platform. This is especially important and a big victory because the Norwegian gay and lesbian movement often ”forget” to include their SM/fetish minority in their budgets, working plans and the previous political platform from 1996.

Professional and human rights work

Even though the main purpose is to abolish SM and fetish diagnoses, Revise F65 is also involved in general work against discrimination and harassment of fetishists and sadomasochists. Some of this work is mentioned here.

In addition to national work, Revise F65 also have an international mandate to motivate other countries to remove their national versions of the SM/fetish ICD diagnoses. The more countries that remove their diagnoses, the greater is the possibility that the World Health Organization will follow suit. This is what happened in many countries in the years before the World Health Organization removed homosexuality as a diagnosis from the ICD classification in 1990.

Inbetween formal committee meetings there has been national and international network building, lectures, workshops, participation at congresses, seminars and festivals. We have been giving interviews, publishing articles, film production, book contribution, periodicals, and lobbying of official health politicans and mental health professionals.

The ReviseF65 project concerns both gays, straights and transgender people. Therefore the ReviseF65 committee consists of leather/SM/fetish men and women representing organizations of leather and SM gays, – lesbians, bi- and heterosexuals, as well as professionals in sexology, psychology and psychiatry. Several dozen people have been involved during the years to a greater or lesser degree on a national basis. Even more people on an international level.

The name “F65” is a chapter in the International Classification of Diseases describing the so called “paraphilias”, earlier called “perversions”. It also contains other paraphilias. Obviously, we primarily want to delete the SM and Fetish diagnoses concerning consenting adults.


Today we know that SM and fetish people played an important role in the modern gay rights movement from the very beginning in Norway and world wide. We were central in establishing the gay and lesbian organization in Norway in the 1950’s. Many leading persons in the gay movement have later been into fetish and SM, and still are. ”Without a face”, we are working for the welfare of gay and lesbians in general. Nevertheless, as a minority within a minority, gay and lesbian leather people experience discrimination within the homosexual movement.

When Norway’s first fetish and SM club, Scandinavian Leather Men (SLM), was founded in 1976, the gay leather members were regarded as violent and reactionary nazis. When the pansexual SM-organization SMil was established in 1988, leading Norwegian psychiatrists called it’s members ”violent” and ”disturbed persons” not being able to feel empathy.

The impetus behind the F65 repeal movement was the flourishing of SM pride, with fetish men and women parading through the streets during Gay Pride week. Leather people were tired of being object of derision in the tabloids.

The group Lesbians in Leather founded in 1993, was a precursor of Smia, founded in 1995, a human-rights group for lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered people.  All these groups, namely Lesbians in Leather, Smia and ReviseF65 are subsidiaries of LLH, and were founded by Svein Skeid.

From 1993 to 1997 Smia campaigned and set about fund-raising (£ 2000) in favour of the defendants in the British Spanner Case, which started in Manchester 1987. We gained support of several dozen Norwegian political organizations, including women‘s rights groups and trade unions, not to mention the unanimous backing of the Lesbian and Gay movement.

In 1997, the Revise F65 committee was formally established by Smia, individual transgender people, and mental health professionals. SLM and SMil joined the committee in 1998, thus the coalition continued to grow.

Long term project

Since 1996, the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and Social Welfare (since 2002), andthe Norwegian Directorate of Health (since 2008), has supported Smia’s work financially to strengthen the self-esteem and identity of gay leather men as part of strategies to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Stigmatizing fetish and SM practices, in our opinion, amounts to an insult against healthy leather-people and, therefore, runs counter to effective public health and safer sex education efforts. It seemed like a paradox that the same official health authorities who grant money to LLH, SLM and Smia, who encourage a positive identity for fetishists and sadomasochists for the HIV prevention and other issues, also represent the agencies that employ the discriminatory and stigmatizing diagnoses of these practices.

The American Psychiatric Association, APA, considerably revised their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) spring 1994. Fall 1994 and May 1995 Dual-role transvestism and the SM diagnoses were repealed in Denmark. Both decisions were founded on research showing that SM is no disease.

Inspired by these incidents, the Norwegian gay and lesbian organization in September 1994 and June 1996 asked the Norwegian Health Authorities for help to bring about the same changes in Norway. The answer from the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision was totally negative.

We then realized that our initiative would be a long term project.



March 8, 1996. Smia was thrown out of the International Women’s Day parade in Oslo because of our slogan “SM is interplay, not violence”. The mistaken blending of SM and violence were introduced by the Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing and is still kept alive by the ICD chapter F65.5 Sadomasochism.
Decision by the March 8 committee in Oslo Februar 20, 1997 (letter and telephone from Turid Kjernsli in the March 8 committee) (The newspaper Klassekampen March 8, 1996).

July 1998. The online newspaper wrote about SM/fetish diagnoses and BDSM human rights in the years before was established.

November 1998. SM – A sexy diagnosis. “Removal of SM and fetish diagnoses is one of the most important tasks of the human rights group Smia.” Smia is the prime mover behind the Revise F65 group. Report in the monthly gay and lesbian magazine Blikk.

Participants in the ReviseF65 group in 1996 promoted the democratic revision of the rules and policy of the gay leather umbrella organization “European Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs”, ECMC, so as to address issues of sexual politics. In 2000 the more than 50 ECMC member clubs, following a proposal by SLM-Oslo, decided to support the Revise F65 effort.
The gay and lesbian magazine Blikk Desember 1998. “Fri tanke”, the magazine of The Norwegian Humanist Association December 10, 1998.

January 1999 professional leader [fagsjef] Ellen Hagemo in the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision wrongly contended that “we cannot just change the national version of the ICD diagnoses”. (According to report from Revise F65 meeting January 20, 1999.)

The umbrella organization for European gay and lesbian rights, European ILGA, issued a statement at it’s 1999 conference in Pisa, Italy, supporting the efforts to remove the diagnoses from the ICD. The Revise F65 member Ole Johnsen also gave a workshop.

February 19, 2000. Svein Skeid (picture) was awarded honorary member of the SLM leather organization for his work over twenty years for BDSM human rights and the BDSM community, including the work to remove fetish and SM diagnoses.

The LLH Convention in 2000 once again approved the ReviseF65 project, which “shall continue until the goal is attained”.

November 18, 2001. Svein Skeid held a presentation about SM human rights, including the Revise F65 efforts, at the University of Agder, Norway.

The Revise F65 web site, established in 2002 in Norwegian, English, German and Portuguese, along with the corresponding mailing list, has facilitated national and international networks. In 2002 the ReviseF65 group had mail correspondence and personal contact with activists and professionals or held lectures in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia, Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil and USA. Updated 2012: Iceland, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Chile, Taiwan, Cuba, Australia, Italy, France, Scotland, Czech Republic and Poland.

“There is something very exciting about connecting up with others who work towards the same goals across the world. Thank you for making this possible.”
Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Psychologist , sex therapist and sex educator teaching at the University of Ottawa, Canada, July 30, 2002)

The web site has also given Revise F65 a good opportunity to disseminate a range of material about its work. Psychologist Odd Reiersøl’s 2002 article “SM: Causes and diagnoses“, in particular, was a great inspiration both in Norway and abroad. To our knowledge, the article has been translated into German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Russian, in addition to Norwegian and English.

In november 2002 member of the Revise committee Eric Barstad (picture) attended the lesbian SM congress WALP in Amsterdam. 148 participants from eleven countries listened to her briefing about the diagnoses, and during a mini workshop she made important international contacts.

The story and effort of the ReviseF65 project was printed late 2002 in the Bulletin of the Norwegian Society for Clinical Sexology. The ReviseF65 committee asked for, and received support on April 29, 2003 and May 8, 2003 from the Norwegian Association of Gay and Lesbian Physicians (HLLF) and the Norwegian Society for Clinical Sexology (NFKS). NFKS state:  “The Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology in its support wishes to emphasize that the use of psychiatric diagnoses in relation to homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual fetishists, sadomasochists and transvestic fetishists is stigmatizing and therefore an encroachment upon this group as a whole” (letter of June 11, 2003).

“We have been working with the Revise F65 diagnoses for some years now and we realise that it has a long way to go. But if I live till I am eighty, and we are taken off the sick list at that time, I will be fairly pleased. You can compare it with the fight for gay and lesbian human rights. It took a long time for them to be deleted from the sick list too.” Svein Skeid (52) interviewed by the SMil magazine no 4, 2002.

Dr. Charles Moser (picture) held a a lecture for the American Psychiatric Association’s APA’s annual meeting in San Francisco May 16-22, 2003. Revise F65 project psychiatrist Reidar Kjær had a one hour long talk with Dr. Moser in connection with the APA Conference.

On June 20, 2003, psychiatrist Reidar Kjær (picture) held the presentation “Do we need all the Paraphilias?” at the International Psychiatric Conference on Diagnosis in Psychiatry. This was held in Vienna Austria and arranged by the World Psychiatric Association. Dr Kjær also held lectures (in Norwegian) entitled “Are SM and Fetish still diseases?” at the Gay Pride Days in Kristiansand on June 6, at the Gay Pride week in Oslo on June 24, and at the SM house “Nonna” October 24.

On June 28, 2003 during the Gay Pride Week in Oslo, Svein Skeid was honouredwith the Gay Person of the Year Award, because of his SM human rights work in general, and the ReviseF65 work to remove SM and fetish diagnoses. The award was an acknowledgement to everybody that has supported and contributed to the ReviseF65 work (and that is many people!). Among them the contributing organizations LLH, SMil, SLM, Smia and our specialists in psychology and psychiatry. The award is also an acknowledgement to everybody working for an open and inclusive leather/SM/fetish society.

LLH leader Tore Holte Follestad personally delivered a letter from the ReviseF65 committee to Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Minister of Health (Christian Democratic Party) on November 28, 2003. This laid out the professional and human rights arguments which underlie the move to take away the SM and Fetish diagnoses. We never got any answer to this letter.

Two days later, November 30, 2003, SMia and Revise F65 also sent the application “Diagnoses, discrimination and HIV” to the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs [avd. Forebyggende sosial- og helsetjenester] asking them to remove stigmatizing psychiatric diagnoses from the Norwegian version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). We never got any answer to this question either.

March 10-14, 2003, two members of the ReviseF65 mailing list; the Brazilian sexologist and clinical psychologist Maria Cristina Martins and the psychologist, psychoanalyst, Ph.D. in Psychopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII University, Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, presented a survey about SM and Fetish diagnoses at the XV World Congress of Sexology in Cuba. Their article, “The so-called “deviant” sexualities: Perversion or right to difference?”, can be read at the Revise web site. Dr. Charles Moser also gave a lecture about the paraphilia diagnoses at the same conference. Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz’ article “DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal”, can also be found linked up from the ReviseF65 main page.

The ReviseF65 index page was renovated in 2003, with separate professional and human rights sections. In the professional part you can read Dorothy Hayden’s article “Is Sadomasochism a mental pathology?“.

After ReviseF65 lectures and strategy talks in Cologne 2002, Berlin 2004, and Fulda 2007, the federal German BVSM e.V. organization since 2004 is working towards the same goal as ReviseF65 – to delete the national German version of the F65-diagnoses. The same do Smart Rhein-Ruhr, BDSM Berlin, Papiertiger, die Datenschlag-Chronik des Sadomasochismus and Das Fetish & BDSM-Referat Uni Ulm.

After five workshops at Europride in Manchester 2003, SM Pride in London 2003 and Kinkfest in London 2004, Revise F65 cooperates with Spanner Trust and International Mr Leather 2003, John Pendal, who became our official supporter and world wide ambassador. He also visited Revise F65 in Oslo, May 2004.

Lectures on Revise F65 were given at two international psychiatrist congresses and onesexology congress in 2004.

In 2004 Revise F65 established a bank account and made it possible to use a “Make a donation”-button on the ReviseF65 webpage.

In November 2004 Revise F65 published a case study indicating that stigmatizing psychiatric diagnoses legitimize harassment and violence towards the fetish/SM population.

We also published evidence that SM/fetish people have no higher degree of psychopathologythan the rest of the population. Revise F65 also tried to carry out our own research projects. But in spite of several attempts, we didn’t succeed. The efforts were aborted due to lack of support from the educational and political institutions approached.

According to Wikipedia, “ReviseF65 is now [2004] by far the most active and visible groupworking with sexual politics and human rights for sadomasochists and fetishists in Norway.”




May 2005 the leader of Smia and Revise F65 contributed to the brochure S&M and fetish sex between men, dealing with how to go about sadomasochism and fetish sex between men safely without transmitting HIV and other kinds of sexually transmitted infections. Supported by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and Social Welfare, translated to English December 4, 2007.

June 23, 2005 the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid gave a lecture on the subject: “SM – health or disease?” at the Faculty of Theology (!) in Oslo, Norway for 90 gay and lesbian christians from all over Europe.

Revise F65 not only cooperates with mental health professionals. October 17, 2005, we published the article ”SM and the law”, concluding that SM or sadomasochism is legal in Norway as long as consent is given and no serious injury is inflicted. It is illegal to leave somebody helpless in bondage, and a safeword is highly recommended. The author of the article, Halvor Frihagen, is a lawyer in Oslo, Norway.


At the international Labour Day May 1, 2006, the Norwegian Labour Party arranged an “Online May Day March” where everybody was encouraged to propose online slogans for Mai 1-banners. The banner “Say no to discrimination of homosexuals” was approved by the webmaster. SMil and Revise F65 proposed “Say no to discrimination of BDSM people”. The banner was removed. So was the slogan “Remove fetish and SM diagnoses”. SMil and Revise F65 wrote letters to the Norwegian Labour Party protesting against censorship of kinky friendly slogans in an online May Day 2006 parade. We also had a meeting with the gay and lesbian Labour Party group.

The short film “The Gay Leather man” (“Lærhomsen”) with participants from SMia, SLM and Revise F65, was shown for the first time June 23, 2006 in Oslo. The 25 minute long documentary, which in a humorous way demystifies the most common prejudices against fetishism and sadomasochism, has later been shown for several educational purposes in addition to film festivals including Lillehammer Norway, Volda Norway, Gay Days in Oslo, Fulda Germany, Stockholm, Cleveland, San Francisco, Kiel Germany, and several times at CineKink New York. English subtitles.

An article by Cand. Psycol Odd Reiersøl and Svein Skeid on the Revise 65 project published in Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures (2006), concludes that The ICD diagnoses of Fetishism, Transvestic fetishism and Sadomasochism are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing. The article was published simultaneously in a special, double issue of the periodical Journal of Homosexuality Volume 50, 2/3.

Revise F65 in 2006 established a cooperation with The National Leather Association’s Domestic violence project and published an article about the differences between SM and violence.

September 28, 2006. The lesbian, BDSM and trans activist Tore Barstad/Eric Jåsunddied 32 years old from complications related to type 1 diabetes. Eric participated in the constitution of Revise F65 and has been leader of Smia and Revise F65. Eric was a self-defined female to unisexual SM/leather/rubber transgender person. Eric participated in dozens of press interviews and seminars to demystify SM. In particular Eric held close contact with the national and international lesbian BDSM community, including the Swedish lesbian BDSM group LASH, which was a central actor to repeal fetish and SM diagnoses in Sweden.


January 2007. ”With leather for freedom”. Interview with the leader of Smia and Revise F65 Svein Skeid about his BDSM human rights work for more than twenty years, included the work to remove fetish and SM diagnoses. The periodical Cupido no 1, 2007.

February 17, 2007. The leader of Revise F65 Svein Skeid informed the SLM annual general meeting about the book project ”Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures” (2006), which SLM supported financially. Especially I emphasized the historical role of gay leather men and women as a primary driving force behind establishment of the ReviseF65 movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the leather pride flag and the moral ethical slogan ”Safe, sane, consensual”.

In applications of February 15, 2007 and February 15, 2008, to the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs (Departement for environment and health), SMia and Revise F65 offered to give lectures for staff members at the Directorate about the stigmatizing effect of fetish and SM diagnoses on the fetish/SM population. The offer was never replied to.

April 15-19, 2007, psychologist Odd Reiersøl (picture) gave an important lecture at the WAS-congress (World Association for Sexual health) in Sidney Australia. Mental health professionals and health politicals from all over the world attended, among them several Norwegians. The lecture was later published as the article “The Fetish and SM Diagnoses in ICD-10” in the Journal of the Norwegian Psychological Association, Vol 45, no 6, 2008, pp 754-756.

Psychiatrist Reidar Kjær May 3, 2007 held the lecture “Stigma, psychiatry and the SM/fetish diagnoses” on a sexologist seminar about Shame and Sexuality at Sexologisenteret NB 22 in Oslo. We also showed the documentary “The Gay Leatherman”.

May 7, 2007 Classification Coordinator Bedirhan Ustun, MD, at the World Health Organization in Geneva invited Revise F65 to cooperate with the work leading up to the ICD-11 revision:

“The revision process of ICD from 10 to 11 is about to start and will be revised for the 11th version tentatively in 2015. The revision work will include special attention to Chapter V Mental and Behavioural disorders (F00-F99). Thanks for your interest in the ICD work and we hope to collaborate with you in the revision process.”

June, 2007. ”After the US considerably revised their DSM Manual spring 1994 and Denmark totally repealed their transvestism and SM diagnoses 1994/95, there is not anylonger only one way to read the ICD bible”. Svein Skeid’s article ”SM – myths and reality” at the Norwegian gay web community Gaysir.


July 29, 2008. During Europride in Stockholm, Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had talks with RFSU, participated in panel discussions and gave a presentation about the Revise F65 work. We literally gave them our memory stick with all relevant political health arguments and scientific evidence.

November 17, 2008, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) announced that Fetishism and Sadomasochism, along with four other sexual behaviours will be deleted from Sweden’s national version of the ICD diagnoses from January 1, 2009.

November 17, 2008. In a press release, the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid characterized the Swedish decision as a victory for the fetish/SM population and for the Revise F65 strategy to motivate other countries to remove their national versions of the ICD SM/fetish diagnoses.

November 18, 2008. The Norwegian BDSM Organization SMil sent a letter to the Ministry of Health and Care Services asking him to remove fetish and SM diagnoses in Norway. In an answer December 19, 2008 the Ministry of Health and Care Services said they had given the Directorate of Health the responsibility to take a decision in the case.


January 1, 2009. Inspired by Revise F65, the six diagnoses sadomasochism, fetishism, transvestism, fetishistic transvestism, multiple disorders of sexual preferences and gender identity disorder in youth, were deleted from Sweden’s official list of medical diagnoses. Except for gender identity disorder in youth, these are the same diagnoses that Revise F65 recommends be removed from the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases.

February 2, 2009, psychologist Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had a short meeting at the Norwegian Directorate of Health where we delivered a memorandum with health political and professional arguments explaining why the SM and fetish diagnoses should be removed from the Norwegian ICD-edition.

February 3, 2009, the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid participated in the Norwegian tv program ”Studio fem”, demonstrating safer SM techniques and telling the audience the reason why SM and fetishism no longer are diseases in Sweden.

At a meeting with the Revise F65 committee and the Norwegian Directorate of Health May 11, 2009, Senior adviser Arild Johan Myrberg informed us that a decision to repeal Norwegian fetish and SM diagnoses can be announced fall 2009 with the intention of bringing the decision into force January 1, 2010.

September 17, 2009: Most English articles updated on, dead links removed or updated and English explanations added to several Norwegian articles.

September 24, 2009. In accordance with the invitation to Revise F65 from the WHO coordinator Bedirhan Ustun MD, May 7, 2007, Revise F65 sent an ”ICD White Paper” with health political and professional arguments to WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which is responsible for the ICD revision. The World Health Organization has now started the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases, and an ICD-11 alpha draft is expected to be ready by May 10, 2010.

October 12, 2009. In a mail to Revise F65 from the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Senior adviser Arild Johan Myrberg informed that a decision to repeal Norwegian fetish and SM diagnoses once more is postponed with no specified date for bringing the decision into force.

November 18, 2009, psychologist Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had a 40 minutes long phone talk with Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed, responsible for the revision of the ICD-10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders at WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Dr. Reed expressed great interest in the fact that more and more countries now remove fetish and SM diagnoses from their national versions of the ICD.

According to Dr. Reed, substantial changes in the ICD are dependent upon broad scientific and political support.

”It will be helpful for the recommendations to come from as broad an international coalition as possible, if possible with the formal involvement or endorsement of scientific and professional societies or governments.”
(Mail to Revise F65 September 25, 2009.)

November 30, 2009, Revise F65 sent a new letter to the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services expressing deep consern about the fact that the decision to remove fetish and SM diagnoses has been postphoned three times by the Directorate of Health. Supported by several psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists and mental health organizations, we stressed that the more countries that change their national ICD versions, the bigger is the chance that WHO will follow suit.

December 4, 2009. The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services now supports Revise F65 100%. In a letter from the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Directorate of Health was instructed to remove the diagnoses of Transvestism, Fetishism and Sadomasochism from the Norwegian version of ICD-10 from 2010. The Ministry asked for a confirmation by December 21, 2009.

December 21, 2009. In their answer to the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Directorate of Health pointed out that they are positive to the idea to remove Transvestism, Fetishism and Sadomasochism from the Norwegian version of ICD-10, just like Sweden has done. The Directorate strongly apologized for all the delays in 2009, and aimed to bring the case to a conclusion by February 1, 2010. “The decision can then possibly be brought into force immediately”, the Directorate wrote.

December 21, 2009. The next weeks Revise F65 will send a “Call to action” to our contacts world wide asking for testimony, quoted reference and supporting evidence from psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, researchers of human sexuality and organizations in order to remove Fetishism, Sadomasochism and Transvestic Fetishism as paraphilic diagnoses from ICD, The International Classification of Diseases published by WHO. Such statements should be sent to Revise F65 (mail: sskeid(A), and will be forwarded by us to WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

As Dr. Reed emphasized, it will also be of great importance to move as many countries as possible to change their national diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism.

Revise F65 recommend to abolish the following ICD diagnoses because they are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing.

F65.0 Fetishism

F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism

F65.5 Sadomasochism

F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference

F64.1 Dual-role transvestism

See more health political and professional arguments at:



Svein Skeid,

Leader of Revise F65


Examples of statements, quotes and evidence of support:


No more psychopathology among BDSM-people

There is no evidence that SM/fetish people have a higher degree of psychopathology than the rest of the population.

Wismeijer & van Assen (2013):
More heathy BDSMers

A Dutch study of 902 BDSM practitioners, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, suggests that the BDSMers had more favorable psychological characteristics than a control group of 434 respondants.

The BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extraverted and had higher subjective well-being than the control group.

The study, that was publised May 16, 2013, also suggests that the BDSM group was more conscientious and less rejection sensitive. BDSMers were however less agreeable than the control group. The doms scored lower than both the subs and the control group with respect to agreeableness. BDSM scores on health were generally more favorably for those with a dominant than a submissive role, with least favorable scores for controls.

Andreas A.J. Wismeijer PhD, Marcel A.L.M. van Assen PhD: Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 10, Issue 8, pages 1943–1952, August 2013.

Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners

Brad Sagarin et al (2009):

The implication of two studies at the Northern Illinois University into hormonal changes associated with Sadomasochistic activities including spanking, bondage and flogging, suggest that it could bring consenting couples closer together. The increases in relationship closeness combined with the displays of caring and affection observed as part of the SM activities offer support for the modern view that SM, when performed consensually, has the potential to increase intimacy between participants. Sagarin, B. J. (picture), Cutler, B., Cutler, N., Lawler-Sagarin, K. A., & Matuszewich, L. (2009). Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 186-200.

Cross and Matheson (2006):

Cross and Matheson (2006) found no support for the traditional theories that sadomasochism is an illness.

The researchers found no evidence for the psychopathology/medical-model contention that masochists suffer from any kind of mental disorder and that SM-sadists are antisocial (Krafft-Ebing 1886/1965).

There was no support for the traditional psychoanalytic view of self-harming and guilt-ridden masochists or id-driven and psychopatic SM-sadists (Freud 1900/1906/1953/1954).

Cross and Matheson neither found any evidence for Baumeister’s contention that masochists were more inclined to engage in escapist behaviors such as drug-taking, day-dreaming, or fantasizing than the comparison group (Baumeister 1988, 1989).

Cross and Matheson did however find that SM participants were overall more likely than non-SM respondents to report bisexual/homosexual orientations.

No evidence was found suggesting that sadomasochists espoused anti-feminist, patriarchal values or traditional gender roles to a greater extent that the non-SM-group.

And the sadomasochists were relatively more likely to be in ongoing relationships than the comparison group.

Patricia A. Cross PhD and Kim Matheson PhD in the book “Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures” (2006), published simultaneously as the Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 50, Nos. 2/3.)

Connolly et al (2006):

Results from a research project by Dr. Pamela Connolly (picture) et al, among a group with bondage and sadomasochistic interests (BDSM) showed that

“no evidence was found to support the notion that clinical disorders – including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsion – are more prevalent among the sample of individuals with BDSM interests than among members of the general population. Moreover, this sample did not show evidence of widespread PTSD, trauma-related phenomena, personality disturbances, psychological sadism or psychological masochism”, disorders in which the sufferer either derives pleasure out of genuine cruelty (not the play-acting kind) or compulsively seeks out harmful levels of pain. ”Similarly, no prominent themes were found in a series of profile analyses.”

”There were, however, som exceptions to this general pattern, most notably the higher-than-average levels of nonspecific dissociative symptoms and narcissism in this sample. That said, this body of findings suggests that, contrary to longstanding assumptions in the psychoanalytic literature, there is very little support for the view that psychopathology underlies behavior.”

Connolly, P.H.; Haley, H.; Gendelman, J.; Miller, J. (2006). Psychological functioning of bondage/domination/sado-masochism practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 18(1), 79-120.

Richters et al 2005:

A survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews with 20,000 Australian men and women, showed that BDSM may actually make men happier. Men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological wellbeing than other men.

BDSM’ers were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse or coercion or anxiety than other Australians.

– This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we’re not sure why, said Dr. Juliet Richters (picture), of the University of New South Wales. “It might just be that they’re more in harmony with themselves because they’re into something unusual and are comfortable with that. There’s a lot to be said for accepting who you are.”

Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore “dysfunctional”.

Richters, J., & Rissel, C. (2005). Doing it down under: The sexual lives of Australians. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.,2933,266344,00.html

Martins & Ceccarelli (2003):

A study, presented at the 16th World Congress of Sexology in Cuba 10-14 March, 2003, suggests that non-conventional sexual practices cannot be used as a diagnosed criteria of any kind, which means that the only aspect that distinguishes these individuals from others is their sexual practices.

Picture: Maria Cristina Martins, Clinical Psychologist and Specialist in Human Sexuality. Campinas, SP, Brazil and Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, PhD in Psycopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII, Paris, France.

Earlier studies:

According to Moser (1999), limited earlier studies show no differences in psychopathology between the S/M group and the control group. Gosselin & Wilson (1980), Miale (1986), Moser (1979).
C. Moser C. (1999). The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). S. Wright, ed., SM Classics, New York, Masquerade Books 1999, p. 47-61.

Gosselin, C, & Wilson, G. (1980). Sexual variations. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Miale, J. P. (1986). An initial study of nonclinical practitioners of sexual sadomasochism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, the Professional School of Psychological Studies, San Diego.
Moser, C. (1979). An exploratory-descriptive study of a self-defined S/M (sadomasochistic) sample. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco.

SM as a sexual orientation

Physicians and psychiatrists about SM as a valid expression of adult consensual sexuality and an important part of people’s sexual orientation.