The Meaning of BDSM Experiences: A Psychodynamic Perspective By Kandice van Beerschoten


It is estimated that as much as 10% of the population identifies as “kinky” and up to 14% of people have experimented with BDSM, or Bondage/Discipline, Domination/submission, and Sadism/masochism. Within the psychoanalytic community, this behavior has long been viewed as perverse. However, as popular books and movies bring BDSM more into the mainstream of acceptable sexual behavior, clinicians are finding the need for a different lens through which to view those who engage in kink.

Have you ever wondered what thoughts reside within a Dominant’s mind as he strikes his submissive? What feelings are present as he has control of her? Moreover, as a clinician, have you sat with patients, contemplating the unconscious meanings that this type of sexual activity might have for them? Have you found it difficult to treat kinky patients either because you disagree with or do not understand what is involved?

Little has been studied about the BDSM population from the perspective of those who self-identify as being “kinky,” particularly in the psychoanalytic literature. There is also a cultural crossover, in that each participant in this book was raised in and, at the time of the interviews, resided in the South, an area with relatively little known about its sexual predilections. This book explores two understudied populations in order to enrich our knowledge about not only their sexual practices but what meanings those behaviors have for each person within their individual internal world.

Using a multiple case study method and a series of psychoanalytic interviews, this book brings insight to clinicians, researchers, and instructors about what motivates these particular Dominants, both consciously and unconsciously, using their own words and perspectives. It is an opportunity for these types of sexual activities to be better understood, as well as a discussion around the idea of kink being depathologized within the analytic community.

The Meaning of BDSM Experiences: A Psychodynamic Perspective is important reading for researchers of perversions, sexual behaviors, and BDSM; those teaching the clinicians of tomorrow, particularly diversity, sexuality, and gender classes; and clinicians currently practicing who wish to have a better understanding of this population.