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Pleasure of Pain

NCJ Number
Forensic Examiner Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2006 Pages: 56-61
Bruce Gross Ph.D.
Date Published
6 pages
This article examines the nature and motivations for bondage-domination-sadism-masochism (BDSM) in sexual behaviors, and considers the health and legal threats associated with BDSM.
In 1899, Fere defined "masochism" as sexual algophilia, or the "fondness or love of pain" during sex. In order to incorporate sadism in this construct, Schrenck-Notzing developed the term "algolagnia," determining that the attraction to sadomasochism is lust rather than love. The meaning of "algolagnia" was soon expanded to include not just acts, but also the fantasies of sadomasochism that are necessary to achieve sexual gratification. BDSM behaviors range from harmless (gentle biting and spanking) to bizarre (mimicking animals) and fatal (strangulation to induce arousal through oxygen deprivation). The author briefly reviews the various theories that attempt to explain BDSM behaviors. The BDSM clubs that emerged in the 1980s were intended to provide a safe social environment for practicing consensual BDSM, and the worldwide connections provided by the Internet further expanded social interactions among like-minded BDSM practitioners. The gray areas and extremes of BDSM not only pose physical and mental dangers for BDSM, but also legal threats, which can include charges of assault, sexual assault, and indecent assault. Such charges usually focus on the consent of the alleged victim. Healthy relationships are characterized by mutual trust and respect manifested in the negotiation of roles and boundaries in interactions. When BDSM is part of a relationship, this negotiation of roles and boundaries is critically important not only for the health and survival of the relationship, but also that of the individuals involved. 14 references


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