A Brief History Of Mental Health & BDSM

A Brief History:

According to physiology today

“Christian Joyal and colleagues (2015) asked over 1,500 women and men about their sexual fantasies. 64.6% of women and 53.3% of men reported fantasies about being dominated sexually—and 46.7% of women and 59.6% of men reported fantasies about dominating someone sexually.1”

This suggests at least 60% of adults have a kink or fetish. Who knew it was that high?
So how many of these adults actually act on these desires? Why do we suppress our urges? Do people who engage in BDSM have mental health issues? What’s the upside and downside of exploring these inclinations?
Well, let’s see.

For centuries religions and superstitions were dictators of behaviour and laws. Some of these superstitions and rules were made to control peoples behaviour by the powers that be.

They used to believe anything that went against the beliefs of the day were the cause of anything going wrong in the world.

They would put people in jail, sacrifice them to the gods and burn “witches” at the stake. These beliefs have been instilled in us for so long that centuries later we still have a stigma about doing what is natural, even though we live in a more tolerant time.

We also have to consider that sexual behaviour can lead to pregnancy and STD’s.

Before they had access too/understood and accepted contraceptives they had to keep it in their pants a bit, otherwise, they would end up with way too many children. Before medical advancements, they didn’t know about STD’s, how they spread or how to stop them. These STD’s would be blamed on peoples lewd behaviour, they were a punishment from higher beings. Luckily we know better now and have better access to contraception, medical intervention for STD’s and more understanding of how to have “safe sex” to lower the odds of contracting an STD to start with.

Despite these superstitions being in the past, the stigma remains. Mental health professionals of the past have looked down on practitioners of BDSM, assumed that they must have been abused or have deep-seated psychological issues.
More recent studies have found that expressing your desires and acting out fantasies is healthy and a much better option than repression. So is there something wrong with people who engage in BDSM or not?


Not all sectors of BDSM are all about pain, sadism and masochism, and the parts that involve these are more about trust, respect and pushing your boundaries than pain.


While some people in the scene have had mental health issues and/or been abused in their past, it’s not a common factor amongst all practitioners.
For some people who have had past traumas, BDSM is actually a healing part of their lives. Having somebody you can trust and an outlet for your emotions can be quite healing.

Why do people engage in BDSM?

As we grow up and develop our sexual identities we are exposed to all sorts of things that can imprint on our desires. What our friends talk about, what school sex education and health classes teach us, early pornographic exposure and parental influences to name a few. As we start to explore these interests we figure out what we like and don’t like, this can lead us to find our way to books, movies, web pages and then to the BDSM community etc

BDSM and Mental Health

Chemicals associated with BDSM?

When we engage in sexual behaviours, fetishes and BDSM play our body realises chemicals that make us feel good. Serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline are the main chemicals associated with BDSM play. While we are playing and just after playing we are on a natural body high, this can make a lot of people can feel quite spacey after play because of this. A lot of these people enjoy that.


While all these chemicals are heightened we feel great, but what goes up must go down. We call this crashing, dropping, sub drop or dom drop.

This can be hours later or the day after when all this surplus of happy chemicals leave our body. This can feel like fatigue, low blood sugar, sadness or depression, or in some people they don’t get this drop. This is what makes aftercare so important. It is important that your play partner, dominant, sister sub or friend etc can be there for you if you need them, some people just need some kind words, some reassurance, some sugar or just a hug. The more you play the more you get used to it and know what you want or need.

BDSM has had positive and negative influence on my life and relationships.
Unfortunately along with any community comes the bad people who exploit it, the people who play politics, the cliques and drama. But for me the good outweighed the bad. You learn who you want to be friends with, who you want to steer away from and how to deal with the drama as it arises. My approach is just running the other way when I see something I don’t like.

I have found that open and honest communication is a lot easier; you also have a deeper trust with somebody when in a BDSM relationship; you give somebody all of you, you give them all the tools to hurt you both physically and emotionally and trust them enough not to. I think there is something beautiful in that.

BDSM relationships also open up a lot of exploration and options that a lot of normative relationships aren’t open to. Things like play scenes, BDSM community events, polyamory, open relationships and swinging just to name a few.

BDSM gives you options, while you don’t have to engage in any of the above, you can engage in these and more, it’s your choice.
Engaging in BDSM has made me feel a lot better about myself, I have been able to be 100% authentically me, not having to hide who I am has been amazing, I have been able to meet some great people and make lots of friends.

BDSM and Mental Health

It is important to remember no matter where you are in your everyday life, BDSM life, friendships, D/S relationships and more there is always somebody listening if you need it. There are friends and family, mental health first aiders in the BDSM community, there are mental health services available 24/7 on the internet and over the phone. These numbers are very useful, never be afraid to use them.


lifeline 13 11 14
beyond blue 1800 512 348
1800RESPECT

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