WHO takes bdsm and fetishism off the sick list


The World Health Organization (WHO) follows the Nordic countries in repealing sexual minorities with consenting practices from the International Classification of Diseases in the new ICD-11 revision. 

(Updated August 31, 2018)

RESEARCH AND HEALTH POLITICS: “Due to advances in research and clinical practice, major shifts in social attitudes and in relevant policies, and human rights standards”, the World Health Organization June 18, 2018, removes Fetishism, Transvestic Fetishism and Sadomasochism as psychiatric diagnoses.


Helene Delilah and Svein Skeid roleplaying getting off the WHO sick list at the stage during Europride in Stockholm August 4, 2018.

The new ICD-11 classification (for the very first time) clearly distinguishes BDSM from harmful violence, in accordance with recommendations from Revise F65.

PRIVATE BEHAVIOUR: ”From WHO’s perspective, there is an important distinction between conditions that are relevant to public health and indicate the need for health services versus those that are simply descriptions of private behaviour without appreciable public health impact and for which treatment is neither indicated nor sought.”

VARIANTS IN SEXUAL AROUSAL: The new ICD classification consider Fetishism, Fetishistic Transvestism and Sadomasochism as variants in sexual arousal.

DISCRIMINATION: Psychiatric diagnoses can no longer be used to discriminate against fetishists and bdsm people. WHO’s Working Group on Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health admit that psychiatric diagnoses has been abused to harass, silence, or imprison leather men and bdsm women.

HUMAN RIGHTS: The Working Group emphasize that a disease label may create violence and discrimination and consider stigmatization of fetishism and bdsm as inconsistent with human rights principles endorsed by the UN and the WHO.


– This is a milestone in the work for human rights and sexual liberation, says Ingvild Endestad, leader of FRI, the Norwegian LGBT organisation for sexual and gender diversity. Consensual sexuality has nothing to do with psychiatry. This is an immensely important recognition of the sexual diversity among us, she says.

Ingvild Endestad. Photo: FRI.

Endestad gives Svein Skeid and FRI’s Revise F65 committee much of the credit for the victory. Human rights standards are part of the professional basis for the reform and the recommendations from Revise F65 are entirely taken into account.

 – The work to remove bdsm and fetish diagnoses has been part of the Norwegian LGBT organisation since 1996. After more than 20 years of sexual political efforts the Revise F65 committee, with Svein Skeid in the lead, has fulfilled its mandate both nationally (2010) and internationally, she says.

– The withdrawal of fetishism, fetishistic transvestism, and sadomasochism as mental illnesses can lead to the same pride and freedom that other queer groups enjoy. The revision of the F65 ICD chapter can also make it easier to encourage research, get rid of anti bdsm laws and become included in national laws against discrimination, Endestad concludes.

Read responses from fetish/bdsm people to WHO’s June 18 announcement:

Susan Wright in the American organization NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom) reports July 12, 2018 about a child custody case in Belgium. The woman was so glad Revise F65 did this work so she has a defense.

Polish Marcin has been in contact with Revise F65 since 2012. June 21, 2018 he writes:

”… that was great news, I had some personal problem with that – my previos wife tries to take my kid from me, and I have to go to several sexologist and psychiatrist to prove, that I’m normal. Now I can tell everyone, that I’m normal, and I have it in written ;).”

Mike W on the #gear365 FB group writes June 22, 2018:

“… this is an excellent posting. It’s well timed with my discovery of #Gear365. In a short space of time the international encouragement to get out and be who I am has done what years and years of angst and stress failed to achieve. Thanks guys, a huge thanks!



Admin Nigel publised June 20, 2018 on

– No more sick filth!

Just in time for Pride, over twenty years of hard work by BLUF member Svein Skeid aka oslosuB (641) have paid off, with the World Health Organisation revising its classification of diseases, removing fetishism and BDSM.

More reactions June 22, 2018:

”Finally, some fucking good news today.”

”This is great news for all of us in to fetish gear and BDSM. Now our leather and rubber communities can grow and we can wear our gear proudly.”

”This is absolutely tremendous news, Svein! Thanks for all your efforts to bring our amazing community out of the WHO biggot list once and for all. You’re a true hero!”

Ground-breaking pioneering work

Svein Skeid and Odd Reiersøl. Photo: private.

Denmark, which removed sadomasochism from its national list of diseases in 1995, was our big source of inspiration, says Svein Skeid, the leader of Revise F65. Skeid and psychologist Odd Reiersøl started a ground-breaking cooperation across national borders and sexual orientations where dozens of activists, organizations and professionals contributed.

– It is very important for these individuals that society recognizes them as equal citizens, expressed the director of the health department, Lars-Erik Holm, to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter November 11th 2008, when the three diagnoses were abolished in Sweden.

– I heard the news on a Norwegian radio station and understood that an equivalent removal could also be within reach in Norway, Skeid tells.

– I had recently been in Stockholm during Europride and given the organization RFSU our arguments, he says. I became very touched by the Director General’s statement: ”The health department wants to emphasize that these behaviors are neither illnesses nor perversions.”

The Nordic model

MORE CELEBRATION: Svein Skeid in the middle. From Bergen Pride June 9th 2018. Photo: private.

– Within 6 years the diagnoses were repealed in all the Nordic countries, patterned after the Norwegian model and the pioneering work of Revise F65, psychologist Odd Reiersøl tells. – Thus the pressure increased on The World Health Organisation to follow suit. After a while Revise F65 achieved direct contact with the authorities in Geneva.

– In 2009 we received a commission from Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey Reed, who has been the leader of WHO’s Working Group on Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health. This resulted in a 3 page report documenting that the diagnoses in question are outdated, non scientific, and stigmatizing, says Reiersøl.

Dr. Reed asked for additional evidence, and November 11, 2011 ReviseF65 delivered a 50 page summary of research based knowledge, documenting that sadomasochism and sexual violence are two different phenomena. Among other things, the fetish/bdsm population has equivalent scores with the rest of the population regarding democratic values such as empathy, responsibility and gender equality.

Already the next day Dr. Reed gave feedback about perfect timing since the revision committee soon would have their very first meeting discussing the reports.

June 18, 2018 the World Health Organisation removed the three fetish and bdsm diagnoses globally. All recommendations from Revise F65 were taken into account in the new revised ICD-11 classification, because the diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism, according to WHO’s Working Group, not are ”relevant to public health and clinical psychopathology” but ”merely reflect private behaviour”. These substantial changes are, according to WHO, ”based on advances in research and clinical practice, and major shifts in social attitudes and in relevant policies, laws, and human rights standards”.

The revision is scheduled to be finally adopted in 2019 and the manual can be employed from January 1, 2022.

#revisef65 #offthesicklist #humanrights #fetishrights #bdsmrights #fetishrightsarehumanrights #bdsmrightsarehumanrights #proudtobeahealthyperv #nomoresickfilth #gear365 #FIGHT #proudperverts #healthyperverts #leatherpride #beyourself #beproudofwhoyouare #fetishpride



Fact box:

Respect, trust and love is basic in a bdsm relationship. Photo published with permission by

* BDSM is a sexual identity/orientation about voluntarily to dominate or being dominated, or voluntarily give or receive pain.

* Fetishism is a sexuality involving specific objects, actions or ideas, which give sexual exitement and pleasure.

* The right to have control over one’s own sexuality and the right to privacy have been fundamental in the work to repeal homosexuality and subsequently fetishism and sadomasochism as mentally illnesses.

* The Norwegian LGBT organisation FRI in 1997 established a committee to work for the national and international repeal of bdsm and fetish diagnoses. In 2010 the diagnoses were removed from the Norwegian list of diseases. In 2018 the World Health Organisation followed suit.


Ingvild Endestad is leader of the LGBT-organisation FRI, the Norwegian organisation for sexual and gender diversity. E-mail: Phone: +47 97 56 22 95.

Svein Skeid is founder and leader of the Revise F65 project. He is award-winning for his work in the field of bdsm human rights for three decades. He is a Norwegian registered physiotherapist with professional background in psychiatry. E-mail: Mobile: +47 95 80 29 85.

Odd Reiersøl is an experienced Norwegian psychologist for 30 years working with adults, couples and groups and educating other professionals. E-mail: Mobile: +47 94 03 46 88.

English Sexual politics

UK report – August 2003

IML 2003 is official supporter of the ReviseF65 Project

Eric and Svein have been rallying support for SM human rights in the UK during august 2003. Representing the ReviseF65 project, they have held four workshops with in all more than fifty people attending. At all the workshops there were represented different gay and straight SM/fetish leaders and mental health specialists from several countries, and during August the number of members on the ReviseF65 mailing list has increased by 50 percent. One of the workshops received the visit of International Mr Leather, John Pendal. Afterwords he decided to support officially the ReviseF65 project.

International Mr Leather, John Pendal (picture left) published August 26th that ReviseF65 is one of five projects that he will support during the year he holds the title. This should provide a good opportunity for informing people about our project work.

John Pendal is one of very few Europeans who has been awarded International Mr Leather. He got the title at the IML contest in Chicago May 25th 2003. He has taken this year off, to give the role his full attention.

Eric and Svein met him at Europride in Manchester 2003. The ECMC leather club MSC Manchester Superchain had invited John to walk in front of their leather-section in the Europride parade Saturday 23rd 2003. For some time Eric and Svein have had mail contact with MSC‘s hon secretary Ian A. He helped us to get a location for our ReviseF65 workshop in Manchester. Friday 22nd Ian presented us to John (picture right) and Sunday John surprisingly attended our ReviseF65 workshop at Malmaison Hotel. It was very interesting and a big honour for us to be able to present our work to the International Mr Leather.

After the lecture we met John at Manchester Legends Bar celebrating MSC Superchain‘s 20th birthday. We asked him if he would consider the possibility of becoming an official supporter of the ReviseF65 project. He answered “yes” immediately and asked Svein to be photographed together with him in front of the Norwegian flag to demonstrate his support (see the upper picture in the right column).

On Monday we wrote John a mail from an internet café in Manchester and thanked him for his support. Tuesday Ian Gurnhill in Spanner Trust (picture left ) told us that John had linked up the ReviseF65 project on his IML Link page. Friday August 29th, we met John and his partner David at the Hoist leatherclub in London. This is John‘s home club where he received the title “Mr Hoist 2003” in February. John told us that he now also had linked the ReviseF65 project to his Support site. This means that ReviseF65 is one of five projects that IML 2003 endorses. This support is of course a big inspiration for us in our work.

In addition to the workshop at Malmaison Hotel, Eric held a “women only” workshop Sunday August 24th at UK’s First International Womens‘ SM Conference in Manchester. On his first trip to the UK, Svein held a successful workshop at the SM Pride festival in London Saturday August 2nd. Another workshop was held at Central Station, Kings Cross, London Thursday August 28th. This lecture was one hour delayed because of the big power-failure (picture right) that stopped all traffic at London‘s Underground system for hours.

The four ReviseF65 workshops attracted from 4 to 40 participants each. At all the workshops central human-rights activists attended. Discussions, dinners and strategy meetings with these SM/leather leaders gave us feedback which will be important for our continued project work.

In addition, our two visits to the UK gave us the opportunity to take a lot of SM/fetish pictures, which we consider an important ingredient of the Revise F65 website.

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.


Sexual politics

“The Gay Leatherman” – a SM Documentary


“The Gay Leatherman” - a SM Documentary


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 and Volda Norway, Gay Days in Oslo, Fulda Germany, Stockholm, Cleveland, San Francisco, Kiel Germany, and several times at CineKink New York. English subtitles.

The film ”The Gay Leatherman” (Lærhomsen) from 2006 has already become a classic. The 25 minutes long documentary by Lars Joakim Ringom demystifies in a humorous way the most common prejudices against fetishism and sadomasochism.

The film was met with standing ovations at the German speaking BVSM-congress in june 2007 because of it’s “balanced combination of empathic documentation, situation comedy, unexpected turnovers and an intensive BDSM session.”

A journalist and sexologist from the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, wrote:

“The Gay Leatherman is a beatiful, warm, humorous and touching short film. It is about how to live as a gay leatherman, and how sadomasochism can be practised in a safe, sane and consensual way.”

Svein Skeid, a Norwegian SM activist, shows us public reactions to rubber fetishism in front of central institutions of power in Oslo, like the Parliament building and the Royal Castle.

The film is interesting for everybody into those interests never the less if you are gay, bi or straight. It can also be be suitable for educational purposes, e.g. health workers, and may be, public tv viewing.

The non-commersial film, with non-professional partisipants, is subtitled into English.


52 pictures from The Gay Leatherman:

11 pictures from The Gay Leatherman:

In German:

In Norwegian
Standing ovation in Germany (2.6.07)

Honourable mention at the Film festival in Volda april 2007.
VG 18.4.2007
Dagbladet 2.7.2006
P4-nyhetene 19.4.2007
Blikk 18.4.2007
Blikk 22.9.2006
Wikipedia about Lars Joakim Ringom
About Svein Skeid

Other languages Professional work

SM: Causas e diagnósticos (portuguese)

SM: Causas e diagnósticos

por Odd Reiersøl
(agradecemos a tradução por: blueshine)

O psicólogo e sexólogo norueguês Odd Reiersøl, neste artigo, argumenta pela abolição do diagnóstico de fetichismo, fetichismo de transversão, sadismo e masoquismo do ICD-10, Classificação Internacional de Doenças, versão 10.


Neste artigo escrevo principalmente sobre SM, mas já que muitos profissionais falam sobre “parafilias” generalizadas ou sobre fetichismo como sendo intimamente ligadas ao SM, farei, por todo o artigo, referências a “fetichismo”. Argumentarei sobre a abolição do diagnóstico de “fetichismo”, “fetichismo de transversão”, “sadismo” e “masoquismo”. Usarei, na maior parte das vezes, o pronome “ele” em vez de “ela”, porque há mais conhecimentos sobre a “parafilia” masculina. Isso não significa que eu queira excluir as mulheres da minha discussão.

O que é SM?

Pontos de vista tradicionais comumente definem que SM é uma “perversão” onde pessoas têm prazer em atividades sexuais que inflijam dor e/ou humilhação. A pessoa que se excita sexualmente por infligir dor/humilhação é chamada de “sádico”. A pessoa que se excita sexualmente por receber estímulos dolorosos/humilhantes é chamada de “masoquista”. A palavra “perversão” foi originalmente usada dentro da terminologia legal, o equivalente psiquiátrico mais moderno seria “parafilia” ou “desvio sexual”(DSM-IV, ICD-10).

Eu vejo o SM como um jogo de poder erótico consentido entre dois adultos. Quando as atividades não são consensuais, ou quando um dos parceiros é tratado com desrespeito, elas se tornam abusivas e podem ser apropriadamente chamadas de “perversas”. O saudável, consensual jogo de poder erótico, pode dar prazer às pessoas. São variações ou preferências sexuais muito aceitáveis. Esses jogos de poder eróticos podem envolver dominação verbal ou física. Ordens, espancamentos, imobilizações e jogos de mestre/escrava são exemplos.

Já que “sadomasoquismo”, para muitas pessoas, carrega uma conotação de violência, pode ser melhor usar um termo diferente como, por exemplo, D/s (Dominação e Submissão), mas é difícil mudar terminologias estabelecidas.

Que tipo de pessoas pratica o SM?

A opinião tradicional de cem anos atrás definia que essas pessoas eram imorais, doentes ou degeneradas. Os pontos de vista não distinguiam entre violência e jogos consensuais. Dados psiquiátricos eram usados para provar esses pontos de vista.

Por exemplo, William Stekel (Stekel, 1930), um famoso psiquiatra e psicanalista, escreveu um livro sobre casos psiquiátricos em fetichismo e SM. Eram pessoas realmente desesperadas, muitas delas em conflito com a lei. Esses pontos de vista eram tirados desses casos.

Vale a pena observar a opinião clerical tradicional condenando todo tipo de atividade sexual que não ocorresse entre homem e mulher, e a atividade sexual necessária para a procriação como objetivo ser aceitável. Qualquer tipo de sexo que não usasse a posição de missionário (o homem por cima!) entre o homem casado e sua esposa era considerado “perverso”.

Foi apenas nos anos 70 que cientistas sociais tentaram conduzir estudos objetivos desses fenômenos sexuais (embora Kinsey tivesse umas poucas questões sobre atividades de infligir dor, como mordidas, no seu famoso estudo dos anos 50). Um dos primeiros estudos foi conduzido por Spengler (1977). Um questionário foi enviado a anunciantes em revistas de SM e a membros de clubes de SM. Moser e Levitt (Weinberg, 1995) fizeram um estudo mais extenso alguns anos mais tarde também baseado em questionários. Robert Stoller (Stoller, 1991) usou um método “etnográfico” para entrevistar praticantes de SM nos anos 80.

Estes estudos indicaram que os praticantes de SM são pessoas muito diferentes. Muitos deles ocupam posição elevada na sociedade, respeitados, com alto nível de educação. Não há razão para crer que há maior prevalência de psicoses ou desordens de personalidade do que na população em geral.

O que faz as pessoas desenvolverem um forte interesse ou preferência por SM?

Se até os psiquiatras e os psicólogos têm tradicionalmente se preocupado com a “etiologia”, acho que seria interessante levantar essa questão sobre a preferência ou forte interesse. Freqüentemente encontro pessoas que se perguntam: “Por que sou como sou?”

Visão psicoanalítica

Na visão psicanalítica o “sadismo” é quase sempre entendido como reação primária e o “masoquismo” como reação secundária ao trauma. O “masoquismo” é secundário no sentido de que o “sadismo” é dirigido para dentro, contra si mesmo. Se a criança tem uma mãe que nega satisfazer suas necessidades, ela pode, quando adulta, procurar vingança em fantasias sádicas e possivelmente realizá-las sexualmente contra mulheres. Sadismo “oral”, “anal” e “fálico” foram postulados. Dessa forma, a vingança pode vir como resultado da angústia de castração na fase edípica (“fálica”). O conflito edípico pode, alternativamente, resultar diretamente em submissão (sendo assim, em masoquismo), como estratégia de fuga. Ele “deixa estar” por desistência.

A compulsão à repetição tem lugar proeminente no pensamento psicanalítico. “Pessoas SM” precisam recriar um velho cenário traumático na tentativa e resolver, aqui e agora, o que foi impossível de resolver no passado. Se, por exemplo, a criança foi espancada pela mãe, ela pode precisar repetir esse cenário tendo uma namorada lhe fazendo o mesmo quando adulto. Ou ele pode reverter essa situação espancando sua namorada.

Há numerosas explicações entre profissionais psicanaliticamente orientados (talvez tantas explicações quanto profissionais). Outra bem conhecida é sobre expiação. “Já que pequei (por ser sexual) sou mau e preciso punição”. Nesse caso, o “masoquismo” parece ser uma reação primária, o “sadismo” será a projeção e o sádico pune o outro ao invés de punir a si mesmo.

Parece que Freud tinha uma visão ampla do SM no sentido de que ele conhecia a seqüência dos estados “normais” aos “extremamente” sádicos, ambos em pessoas masoquistas. Ele associou homens sociáveis, assertivos, dominadores, como tipos sexualmente “sádicos” e mulheres receptivas, submissas, como tipos “masoquistas”. Apenas quando esses impulsos se tornam exagerados que a pessoa se torna “perversa”. Freud também entendeu o fetichismo como uma perversão “primária”, o que significa que o SM de alguma forma tem o fetichismo como base. É também importante notar que Freud, inicialmente, pensou o sadismo como força primária (em relação ao masoquismo), mas, posteriormente passou a crer que o masoquismo veio primeiro.

É preciso alertar que as palavras “sadismo” e “masoquismo” são usados em diferentes sentidos (dos sexuais) dentro da visão psicanalítica. Por exemplo, Wilhelm Reich (Reich, 1945) falou sobre “estruturas de personalidade” sádicas e masoquistas. Há formas de caracterizar tipos de personalidades e isso não tem necessariamente a ver com sexualidade.

Robert Stoller, um psiquiatra e psicanalista, se divide quanto ao pensamento psicanalítico quanto aos conflitos da infância contribuam à “etiologia”. Ele foge ao tradicional porque acentua a formação genética assim como outros fatores biológicos e culturais como importantes contribuições. Ele critica a psicoanálise de ser dogmática e não se interessar em investigar os fenômenos da vida real. “Teorias psicoanalíticas que comecem por chamar de perversos as pessoas fronteiriças, pre-psicóticas e que tais, não fazem justiça às áreas maciças de funções bem sucedidas presentes em muitas pessoas perversas ou às áreas maciças de patologia presentes naqueles que não são classificados como perversos” (nesse livro de 1991 ele atipicamente usa a palavra “perversão” ao invés de “parafilia”). Stoller delineia mais ou menos a seguinte conclusão de suas investigações etnográficas dos anos 80 bem como de outras pesquisas em relação às causas e às dinâmicas:

Fatores biológicos:

· “É sensato pensar que certas áreas anatômicas são constitutivamente mais prazerosas em uma pessoa do que na outra; o desenvolvimento de zonas libidinais contribuem para um estilo erótico”.
· Homens têm uma propensão para fetichizar (por “fetichizar” Stoller descreve um fenômeno que eu preferiria chamar “objetificar”)”ou seja, reduzir a apreciação de alguém a apenas sua anatomia, ou menos (isso sendo a dinâmica fundamental da perversão) em contraste ao desejo oposto nas mulheres por relacionamento, intimidade e constância. Ele supõe que a evolução filogenética é responsável por essas diferenças de gênero. Ele acrescenta, no entanto que essas diferenças quanto ao gênero sexual podem ser explicadas culturalmente.
Fatores culturais:
· Cultura é uma fonte de consciência, por exemplo: “.. quando a igreja medieval aceitou a flagelação como um ato piedoso, os masoquistas tiveram um assombroso caminho, mais ou menos livre de culpa, ao êxtase que a igreja de hoje bloqueou através de sua compreensão do masoquismo perverso”.
· A cultura é uma fonte de sugestões para as pessoas definirem seus comportamentos eróticos. Stoller refere-se aos “jogos erótico perversos”, isto é, um encorajamento aos indivíduos experimentarem práticas para o prazer erótico, mesmo quando a cultura desaprova essas práticas.
Fatores psicodinâmicos:

Trauma: Assim como outros psicanalistas, Stoller inclui o trauma como um fator de forte contribuição. Ele é mais cauteloso do que muitos dos tradicionais pois levanta importantes questões sobre como o trauma contribui exatamente e sob que circunstâncias. Por que algumas pessoas tornam-se interessadas em SM e outras não, tendo tido o mesmo tipo de trauma? Ele especula a partir de seus dados etnográficos e de sua prática psicanalista que as pessoas que praticam SM consensual são “neuróticas, como nós todos”, enquanto que os praticantes não-consensuais são mais severamente afetados demonstrando fortes sinais de desordens da personalidade ou, nos piores casos, de psicoses.
· “Ansiedade de simbiose”: Os meninos precisam desempenhar um ato de separação de suas mães que não é requisitado às meninas. Quando isso é difícil, eles podem temer tornarem-se femininos e podem temer tornarem-se íntimos de meninas e mulheres. “Muito da masculinidade, em todas as culturas, é construída a partir da manifestação desse conflito: da ênfase ao falo, do medo da intimidade com mulheres, do medo de ser humilhado pelas mulheres, da necessidade de humilhar as mulheres e da fetichizição das mulheres.” Ele apregoa que a ansiedade da simbiose pode ser a base para a maioria das perversões, por exemplo, fetichismo, voyeurismo e sadomasoquismo. Na sua maneira de ver essas são diferentes maneiras de criar ou preservar distância das mulheres.

· Defesa contra ansiedade, vergonha e culpa.
Teoria comportamental
Rosenhan e Seligman (1995) apresentam uma visão comportamental das causas das parafilias.Eles usam o paradigma pavloviano onde um reflexo condicionado (CS) é associado a um reflexo incondicionado (US) de estimulação genital e a uma resposta incondicionada (UR) de prazer sexual. Como resultado, futuramente um CS produzirá uma resposta condicionada de excitação sexual. Fetichismo por pés pode ser usado como exemplo. A visão e o toque de um pé no pênis pode se tornar um CS resultando em ereção ou orgasmo, o US. O CS não se extingue na parafilia, devido à masturbação que reforça a conexão entre CS e US. Mas por que algumas pessoas se masturbam com o CS e outras não é ainda um mistério.
Além disso, eles usam um “prevenção” como forma de explicar o fato de que um limitado conjunto de objetos tornem-se parafílicos. Essa prevenção é talvez “meio programada”(i.e. biologicamente determinada) e de determinadas espécies.

Sexologia “Moderna”
John Money (Money, 1986) é um dos mais importantes e conhecidos sexologistas que escreveu exaustivamente sobre a parafilia. Ele usa tanto a psicoanálise quanto a teoria comportamental para como bases para seu pensamento. Uma de suas definições mais proeminentes é a de “transformar a tragédia em triunfo”, a tragédia como vandalização da sexualidade de alguém ou um “gráfico do amor”. O triunfo é a satisfação sexual obtida por ser parafílico. Money define o “gráfico do amor” como “uma representação ou padrão de desenvolvimento existindo simultaneamente no pensamento e no cérebro retratando o amor idealizado, o caso de amor idealizado, e o programa idealizado de atividade sexo-erótica projetada no imaginário ou mesmo realizada com o parceiro” (Money, 1998). O gráfico do amor de uma pessoa é, supostamente, tão característico dessa pessoa como suas digitais. Uma pessoa com parafilia como parte de seu gráfico do amor teve seu gráfico vandalizado.
Gráficos do amor podem ser vandalizados de muitas formas, por exemplo, por pais que interferem no desenvolvimento sexual de uma criança. Ele afirma que a parafilia é virtualmente não-existente em sociedades que não colocam tabus no desenvolvimento sexo-erótico das crianças. Por outro lado, ele enfatiza que tanto a hereditariedade quanto o ambiente contribuem para o aparecimento das parafilias. Componentes hereditários não são necessariamente genéticos, pois podem, por exemplo, ser fruto de influências hormonais no ambiente intrauterino.
Money é conhecido pela extensiva classificação das parafilias, dividindo-as em categorias e sub-categorias e dando-lhes nomes específicos (como “acromotofilia”) que ele pegou do grego e do latim. Sua classificação é muito mais extensa do que as encontradas nos mais importantes manuais de diagnósticos (DSM e ICD).
Os sexologistas variam em sua maneira de pensar sobre as origens da parafilia. Uma opinião comum é que o desenvolvimento da parafilia está conectado à rejeição do indivíduo à sexualidade, ao corpo e à intimidade, e que há um conflito emocional em relação aos seus pais. O conflito emocional faz o indivíduo desconectar sua sexualidade de outros indivíduos e conectá-la a objetos ou situações.

Meus comentários sobre a “etiologia”
Acho razoável acreditar que há tantas origens para a parafilia quanto indivíduos parafílicos. De acordo com minha experiência e com os estudos que li, indivíduos de Sm constituem um grupo diverso que não tem necessariamente nada em comum exceto o fato de serem interessados em SM.
Muitos dos profissionais que tentaram explicar as origens do SM têm bons conceitos, mas eu não acredito que as explicações são universalmente válidas. É muito fácil postular um conflito e um trauma como necessariamente fatores fundamentais, especialmente quando dados do paciente são usados. Se isso fosse correto, eu esperaria uma maior prevalência de psicopatologias entre indivíduos SM do que na população em geral. Pelos estudos feitos, no entanto, não há razão para acreditar nisso. Como Stoller diz: “Muitos dos pacientes informantes são estáveis profissionalmente; a maior parte graduados ou mais, conversadores animados, com bom senso de humor, atualizados na política e nos eventos mundiais, e nem mais nem menos deprimidos do que a sociedade como um todo. “Como todo mundo, eles são neuróticos”.
Então, se, como Stoller diz, SM é uma PTSD (Desordem Pós Traumática por Stress ou Tensão) da infância, nós todos provavelmente temos algum tipo de PTSD, indivíduos SM ou não. E SM é virtualmente uma solução saudável comparando-se, por exemplo, a uma OCD (Transtorno Obsessivo Compulsivo).
Um dos pontos fracos nessas explanações é que quase sempre falam só de homens. Naturalmente, os homens tradicionalmente reprimiram menos suas inclinações sexuais do que as mulheres, assim sendo manifestaram seus impulsos sexuais de forma mais abrangente. Alguns deles tiveram problemas (algumas vezes até com a Lei) e terminaram num consultório médico sendo diagnosticados. Isso nos leva a um outro ponto fraco: muitos dos casos coletados vêm de casos patológicos.
Acho razoável perceber (como Stoller e Money) que há várias causas que contribuíram. A educação é obviamente insuficiente, já que há fortes razões para crer que ambientes equivalentes podem dar resultados diferentes. Indivíduos que foram espancados quando crianças podem ou não ser levados a espancar. E indivíduos que nunca foram (ou pelo menos dizem que não) espancados gostam de o ser durante os jogos SM. Talvez alguns indivíduos sejam mais atraídos a uma forte estimulação do que outros. O ânus é uma zona erógena para a maioria das pessoas e talvez mais sensível em umas do que em outras. Já que há diferenças genéticas nas partes do corpo de cada um, por que diferenças geneticamente determinadas em diferentes partes do corpo não respondem a vários tipos de estímulos?
Concordo com Stoller de que há causas biológicas, culturais e ambientais, que freqüentemente operam em interação simultânea. Acredito que a “fixação” (Stoller) ocupa uma parte importante, porque interesses sexuais são muito “resistentes à extinção”. Não acho que os teóricos comportamentais tenham acertado em que a masturbação seja um fator crucial para manter o interesse. Mais provável que o interesse tenha sido invocado uma vez e para sempre fixado, compelindo portanto o indivíduo a continuar se masturbando.
O interesse pode ser despertado de várias formas, não necessariamente traumáticas. Se há um trauma envolvido, talvez isso possa explicar a fixação pois a excitação pode ter sido tão grande que o impacto emocional da experiência fica gravado para sempre no cérebro e no sistema nervoso. Mas posso bem imaginar que os estados hiper-excitados tenham diferentes causas. Uma irmã mais velha que coloque sua bota no pênis do menino durante uma brincadeira pode ser o exemplo de forte excitação resultante do vigor do jogo mais o toque em seu pênis. Seu fetiche por botas e possivelmente um interesse masoquista pode ser devido ao intenso prazer num estágio de super-excitamento sem nenhum trauma envolvido. Naturalmente, sua estrutura genética pode ser de grande influência nessa hora. Entretanto, alguém pode argumentar que se um indivíduo adulto pode relacionar-se sexualmente apenas com botas e não com pessoas, deve haver algum trauma em sua vida que faz ser impossível uma relação sexual com outras pessoas. O(s) trauma(s) será, nesse caso, relativo à sua inabilidade em criar relacionamentos, não a fetiches ou interesses SM. Tenho certeza de que psiquiatras quase sempre se confundem sobre esses assuntos. Além disso há uma razão para acreditar que a maioria de nós sofremos algum tipo de trauma, e que isso poderiam, em casos individuais, ser prova de que o trauma é a causa para o interesse no SM. “Veja, esses SM todos tiveram traumas em suas vidas”.
De qualquer maneira, concordo com Stoller em que, aqueles que abusam de outros, sexualmente ou não, são indivíduos comprometidos psiquicamente. Eles devem ter sofrido traumas tradicionais (como terem sido vítimas de abusos) ou terem sido severamente negligenciados, de tal forma que suas habilidades para relacionarem-se com outras pessoas de forma respeitosa e empática tenha sido profundamente prejudicada.
Um ponto sobre a interação entre a biologia e o ambiente: há razões para crer que alguns meninos têm uma estrutura biológica mais feminina do que outros (Bateson). Um menino assim pode se sentir especialmente inclinado a brincar com meninas e de forma submissa. Sua estrutura biológica dá-lhe impulsos para escolher ambientes que lhe dê oportunidades de experimentar uma forte excitação sexual por meninas que o dominem. Aí, o interesse masoquista pode se desenvolver. É claro que não afirmo que todos os homens masoquistas são “efeminados”. Há diferentes razões para todos os interesses e preferências sexuais.

Por que o SM (e o fetichismo) ainda é passível de diagnóstico?

O SM não é apenas categorizado como uma “parafilia”, ele é também diagnosticado como tal. Sexualidade desviante tem sido vista como imoral (“perversa”) pelo clero como também pelos leigos. Essa avaliação tem servido como ferramenta para a opressão política. O controle da sexualidade das pessoas toca profundamente em suas personalidades. Com a medicalização da sociedade, imoralidade foi substituída por doença. Inúmeras práticas sexuais foram rotuladas de “desvios”, o que significa “doente” no contexto diagnóstico. Muitas dessas práticas são hoje consideradas normais, ou pelo menos não como doenças (por exemplo sexo oral, sexo anal, homossexualidade). Uma razão para isso é a crescente aceitação de atividades sexuais como prazeres legítimos (tanto para homens quanto para mulheres); a atividade sexual não necessariamente tem a procriação como objetivo atualmente.

Outra razão é a permissividade e a relativa abertura sobre a diversificação, e os homossexuais tornaram-se um forte e influente grupo lutando por seus direitos humanos. O mais autorizado sistema de diagnóstico psiquiátrico mundial é o DSM-IV (Manual Estatístico e Diagnóstico de Doenças Mentais, Quarta Edição) pela Associação Psiquiátrica Americana e o “Desordens Mentais e Comportamentais” subgrupo do ICD-10 (Classificação Internacional de Doenças, versão 10) pela Organização Mundial da Saúde.

Há, provavelmente, muitas diferentes razões do porquê SM e fetichismo são diagnosticados como “parafilias”:
· Categorização e estigmatização da minoria não a elimina. Indivíduos estigmatizados precisam falar e exigir aceitação, especialmente quando o grupo é invisível. Estabelecer categorias tendem a continuar sua existência (apenas porque eles existem) até que alguém lute por mudança.
· Muitos praticantes de SM nem sabem que eles são diagnosticados. A maioria deles estão “dormindo” nessa parte do mundo. Indivíduos com interesses em SM e em fetiches normalmente não procuram por terapia para mudar seus interesses sexuais. Esses indivíduos que foram diagnosticados são normalmente os reincidentes a que se referem o sistema legal.
· Dentro do diagnóstico de sádico e de masoquista não há distinção claro entre jogos consensuais e abuso sexual.
· Psiquiatras, pelo menos os tradicionais, tendem a acreditar que o SM é causado por severo trauma e, portanto, é um fenômeno anormal.
Na verdade houve algum esforço para mudar, o que resultou no “critério B” adicionado a todas às sub-categorias das parafilias no DSM-IV: “As fantasias, impulsos ou comportamentos sexuais causam, clinicamente, significantes aflições ou prejuízos nas importantes áreas de funcionamento social, ocupacional etc.”. Este critério precisa ser encontrado como condição para que o diagnóstico de “parafilia” seja feito. O critério não é (ao menos não claramente, explicitamente ou consistentemente) implementado no ICD-10. Ambos os sistemas de diagnóstico aboliram o diagnóstico de homossexualidade.

Por que os diagnósticos de “fetichismo” e de “sadomasoquismo” deveriam ser abolidos?

· Isso é um assunto de direitos humanos. Diagnosticar tipos de sexualidade é um desrespeito assim como discriminar pessoas baseando-se na raça, etnia ou religião.
· Pessoas podem usar o diagnóstico para usar o abuso legítimo. Há ainda muito respeito e crença nos diagnósticos médicos. .
· Os “desviados” freqüentemente vêem a si mesmos como menos valorizados (eles sentem o estigma).
· Diagnósticos são confusos. Por exemplo, o critério de diagnosticar o “fetichismo de transversão” (DSM-IV) aplica-se apenas a homens heterossexuais. Fico feliz que homossexuais e mulheres estejam isentos (e eles têm sido bons em se agrupar contra a discriminação), mas homens e heterossexuais também deveriam. Uma razão pela qual mulheres estejam isentas desse diagnóstico é, provavelmente, que mulheres usam roupas masculinas de forma melhor aceita socialmente do que homens degradam seu status se usarem roupas femininas. O diagnóstico de “Sadismo” e “Masoquismo” são certamente confusos porque abuso e violência estão na mesma categoria que jogos sexuais consensuais. O diagnóstico de “Pedofilia” não tem nada a ver com fetichismo ou SM consensual, mas é diagnosticado como “Parafilia” do mesmo nível.
· O rótulo de “Parafilia” no sistema de diagnóstico parece inconsistente. Muitos tipos de parafilia (como o, por exemplo, definido John Money) não são mencionados. Desde que muitos tipos de abuso sexual são diagnosticados como parafilia, parece estranho que o estupro não o seja. Um estuprador não é necessariamente sádico porque ele pode não ter necessariamente excitação sexual advinda do sofrimento da vítima. A prática de sexo sem segurança também não é diagnosticada como tal (pelo menos não como uma desordem sexual).
· As categorias do DSM-IV para fetichismo e SM são redundantes, porque se as fantasias causam aflição ou prejuízo funcional, há muitas outras categorias (fora da parafilia) para serem diagnosticadas.
· Interesses por SM e fetichismo são basicamente “normais” (assim como algumas pessoas são atraídas por pernas com meias, outras pés com sapatos “sexies”, etc., e a dimensão desse poder é usualmente presente em algum grau, isto é, quem fica por cima e quem fica por baixo durante a atividade sexual). O interesse só é passível de ser diagnosticado se for excessivo, mas esse excesso pode ser aplicado a qualquer coisa na vida. Um colecionador de selos não será diagnosticado como “filatélico” só porque fica excessivamente absorto com essa atividade.
· O ICD-10 privilegia as relações sexuais: “Fantasias fetichistas são comuns, mas não são consideradas desordens a menos que levem a rituais tão compulsivos e inaceitáveis que interfiram na relação sexual causando um esgotamento no indivíduo”. Então, se as pessoas não querem relações sexuais, isso pode ser sério! Sadomasoquismo, no entanto, não significa causar um esgotamento no indivíduo (inconsistência).
· Independente do que cause o SM e o fetichismo, não há razões para diagnosticá-los como doenças. É um absurdo tão grande quanto diagnosticar as pessoas “judias”, “cristãs” ou “muçulmanas”.
· Não é a sexualidade em si que é um problema. Entretanto, qualquer tipo de sexualidade (até a atividade heterossexual “careta”, “normal”) pode ser pervertida quando abuso e desrespeito fazem parte dela.
· Diagnosticar pode afetar os indivíduos de muitas maneiras negativas.
Possíveis conseqüências por ser diagnosticado
· Pessoas podem acreditar que estão doentes porque autoridades médicas assim o dizem.
· Imagem negativa de sis mesmo, baixa auto-estima.
· Obsessões e compulsões, por exemplo, o alcoolismo, o abuso das drogas e o vício em trabalhar.
· Suicídio ou tentativa de suicídio.
· Ansiedade sexual, dificuldades sociais.
· Vários tipos de comportamento auto-destrutivo (por exemplo, mutilação própria e passividade).

Comentários finais: Qual é o problema realmente?

Stoller diz: “Mas agora, o ponto principal. Embora estudar o sentido da perversão valha a pena, o que interessa é a questão básica: Que ameaça qualquer indivíduo, não apenas o sadomasoquista, inflige a qualquer outra criatura? Não apenas na imaginação ou no teatro do comportamento erótico (como, por exemplo, no dos sadomasoquistas consensuais)”. Stoller usa a palavra “perversão” mais ou menos como sinônimo de “parafilia”. Eu acho que seria útil reservar a palavra “perversão” para atividades sexuais ameaçadoras e outras abusivas e desrespeitosas. A categoria de “perversão” poderia então incluir atividades como: estupro, coerção sexual, dolo sexual, pedofilia e inúmeras práticas sexuais perigosas. Estou falando realmente sobre a moral na nossa cultura, em nossos dias e época, e isso é que é importante. Se nós, por qualquer razão, precisarmos manter uma categoria diagnóstica de “desvio sexual”, eu certamente incluiria as práticas imorais nessa categoria.
De qualquer forma, qual é realmente o problema dos indivíduos “perverso” neste sentido? É um problema sexual ou alguma coisa a mais? Quando uma pessoa ultrapassa os limites de outra pessoa ou se comporta de forma auto-destrutiva, esta pessoa tem um problema e pode ser um bem sério, mas não um problema sexual. O homem que bate na esposa (sendo sexualmente excitado com isso ou não) tem um sério problema, como um transtorno de personalidade (o que também não é um problema sexual). O indivíduo adulto que se envolve sexualmente com crianças tem um problema grave. Ele provavelmente tem dificuldades em desenvolver intimidade com outros adultos, ou seja, em outras palavras ele tem um problema de contato.
Ainda umas poucas palavras sobre intimidade: Muitas pessoas, sejam “normais” ou “parafílicas”, têm dificuldade em tornar-se íntimo do parceiro apropriado. Se a pessoa é “parafílica”, a psiquiatria é rápida em atribuir o problema a um desvio de sexualidade. Seria mais apropriado ver a dificuldade com a intimidade como um problema, do que estigmatizar o tipo de sexualidade. Não há nenhuma evidência de que pessoas SM ou fetichistas são menos aptos a amar seus parceiros do que qualquer outra. Se a pessoa tem problema com intimidade, isso não é um problema sexual. Entretanto, isso pode ser muito sério.


DSM-IV: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, American Psychiatric Association, Washington DC.
ICD-10: The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders, World Health Organization, Geneva.
Money, John: “Lovemaps”, Irvington Publishers, Inc., N.Y., 1986.
Money, John: “Sin, Science and the Sex Police”, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1998.
Reich, Wilhelm: “Character Analysis”, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, N.Y. 1945.
Rosenhan, D.L. and Seligman, M.: “Abnormal Psychology, third edition”, Norton, N.Y. 1995.
Stekel, Wilhelm: “Sexual Aberrations”, Liveright Inc, N.Y., 1930
Stoller, Robert: “Pain and Passion – A Psychoanalyst Explores the World of S&M”, Plenum Press, N.Y., 1991.
Weinberg, Thomas (Ed.): “S&M – Studies in Dominance and Submission”, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1995.

English Professional work

SM: Causes and diagnoses (2002)

SM: Causes and diagnoses (2002)

by Cand. Psychol Odd Reiersol
The Norwegian psychologist and sexologist Odd Reiersøl in this article makes an argument for abolishing the diagnoses of fetishism, fetishistic transvestism and sadomasochism from ICD-10, The International Classification of Diseases, version 10.


In this paper I write mainly about SM, but since so many professionals talk about generalized “paraphilias” or about fetishism as being closely linked to SM, I will throughout the article make references to “fetishism”. I will make an argument for abolishing the diagnoses of “fetishism”, “fetishistic transvestism” and “sadomasochism”. I am mostly using the pronoun “he” rather than “she”, because there is still more knowledge about male “paraphilia”. It does not mean that I want to exclude women from my discussions.

What is SM?

Traditional viewpoints typically state that SM is a “perversion” where people take pleasure in sexual activities that inflict pain and/or humiliation. The person who gets sexually aroused by inflicting pain/humiliation is labeled a “sadist”. The person who becomes sexually aroused by receiving painful/humiliating stimuli is labeled a “masochist”. The word “perversion” was originally used within legal terminology; a more modern psychiatric equivalent is “paraphilia” or “sexual deviation”(DSM-IV, ICD-10).

I think of SM as an erotic or sexual power play between consenting adults. When the activities are non-consensual, or when one of the partners is treated with disrespect, they become abusive and may appropriately be labeled “perverse”. The healthy, consensual sexual power games, may give people pleasure. They are quite acceptable sexual variations or preferences. These power games may involve verbal or physical domination. Commanding, spanking, bondage and master/slave games are examples.

Since “Sadomasochism” for so many people carries connotations of violence, it may be better to use a different term, for example DS (Dominance and Submission), but it is difficult to change established terminology.

What kind of people practice SM?

The traditional viewpoints a hundred years ago state that these people are immoral, sick or degenerated. The viewpoints typically don’t distinguish between violence and consensual games. Psychiatric data was used to prove the viewpoints.

For example William Stekel (Stekel, 1930), a well-known psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, wrote a book about psychiatric case histories of fetishism and SM. These were truly desperate people, several of them in conflict with the law. His viewpoints were taken from these “cases”.

It is worth noting that traditional clerical views condemned all types of sexual activity that did not occur between a married man and woman, and sexual activity needed to have procreation as its purpose to be acceptable. Any kind of sex that was not an intercourse in the missionary position (the man on top!) between a married man and woman was considered “perverse”.

It was not until the 1970’s that social scientists tried to conduct objective studies of these sexual phenomena (although Kinsey had a few questions about pain inflicting activities, such as biting, in his famous study from the 1950’s). One of the first studies was conducted by Spengler (1977). A questionnaire was sent to advertisers in SM contact magazines and to members of SM clubs. Moser and Levitt (Weinberg, 1995) did a more extensive study a couple of years later also based on questionnaires. Robert Stoller (Stoller, 1991) used an “ethnographic” method for interviewing SM practitioners in the 1980’s.

These studies indicate that SM practitioners are very different as people. Many of them are very highly functional in society, well respected, with high education. There is no reason to believe that there is a higher prevalence of psychoses or personality disorders than in the general population.

What makes people develop a strong interest or preference for SM?

Even if psychiatrists and psychologists have traditionally been overly preoccupied with “etiology”, I think it is interesting to raise the question about the history of a preference or a strong interest. I often find people wonder about: “Why am I the one I am?”

Psychoanalytic thinking

In psychoanalytic thinking “sadism” is often understood as a primary and “masochism” a secondary reaction to trauma. “Masochism” is secondary in the sense that the “sadism” is directed inward, against oneself. If a child has a mother who denies him satisfaction of needs, he might as a grown up seek revenge in sadistic fantasies and possibly act them out sexually against women. “Oral”, “anal” and “phallic” sadism has been postulated. Thus revenge may come as a result of the castration anxiety from the Oedipal (“phallic”) stage. The Oedipal conflict may alternatively result directly in submission (thereby masochism) as an escape strategy. He “lets go” by giving up.

The repetition compulsion has a prominent place in psychoanalytic thinking. “SM people” need to recreate an old traumatic scenario in an attempt to resolve in the here and now what was impossible to solve back then. If, for example, the child got spanked by his mother, he might need to repeat that scenario by having his girlfriend do the same to him as an adult. Or he may attempt a reversal of the situation by spanking his girlfriend.

There are numerous explanations among psychoanalytically oriented professionals (perhaps as many explanations as there are professionals). Another popular one is about expiation: “Since I have sinned (by being sexual), I am bad and need punishment”. In this case “masochism” seems to be the primary reaction, “sadism” will be a projection and the sadist punishes the other instead of himself.

It seems that Freud had a broad view on SM in the sense that he acknowledged a continuum of states from “normally” to “extremely” sadistic and the same for masochistic persons. He associated men with the outgoing, assertive, dominating, “sadistic” type of sexuality and women with the receptive, submissive, “masochistic” type. It’s only when these normal impulses become exaggerated, that the person becomes “perverse”. Freud also looked upon fetishism as a “primary” perversion, which means that SM somehow has fetishism as a basis. It is also worth noting that Freud at first thought that sadism was the primary force (in relation to masochism), but later came to believe that masochism came first.

We also have to be aware that the words “sadism” and “masochism” are used in different (from sexual) ways within psychoanalytically oriented thinking. For example, Wilhelm Reich (Reich, 1945) talked about sadistic and masochistic “character structures”. These are ways of characterizing people’s personalities and do not necessarily have to do with sexuality.

Robert Stoller, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, shares traditional psychoanalytic viewpoints in the sense that conflicts from childhood contribute to the “etiology”. He is otherwise untraditional because he stresses the genetic makeup as well as other biological factors and cultural factors as important contributions. He criticizes psychoanalysis of being dogmatic, of not being interested in investigating the phenomena in real life. “Psychoanalytic theories that start by calling perverse people borderline, prepsychotic and so on do not do justice either to the massive areas of successful function present in many perverse people or to the massive areas of pathology present in those whom we do not label perverse” (in his book from 1991 he atypically uses the word “perversion” instead of “paraphilia”). Stoller draws more or less the following conclusions from his ethnographic investigations from the 1980’s as well as from other research as far as causes and dynamics go:

Biologic factors:

“It is sensible to assume that certain anatomic areas are constitutionally more pleasure-intensive or subdued in one person than in another; libidinal zonal development contributes to erotic style”.

Men have a propensity for fetishizing (by “fetishizing” Stoller describes a phenomenon that I would rather call “objectifying”) “that is, reducing one’s appreciation of another to anatomy only, or less (that fundamental dynamic of perversion) in contrast to the opposite desire in women for relationship, intimacy, and constancy.” He assumes that the phylogenetic evolution is responsible for these gender differences. He acknowledges, though, that the gender differences may be explained culturally.

“… postnatal hard-wiring induced by the environment is laid on the genetic and constitutional hard-wiring present at birth” (fixing, related to “imprinting”)

Cultural factors:

Culture is a source of conscience, for example: “.. when the medieval church accepted flagellation as a pious act, masochists had a wondrous, more-or-less guilt-free route to ecstasy that today’s church has blocked through its knowledge of perverse masochism”.

Culture is a source of suggestions to people for designing their erotic behaviors. Stoller refers to “perverse erotic games”, e.g., encouraging individuals to try on fashion practices for erotic pleasure, even while the culture disapproves of such practices.