Kinky people have better mental health than everyone else

People who engage in kinky sexual practices involving such things as bondage and sadomasochism may actually be more mentally healthy than those who don't, according to a new study. So what are you waiting for? It's time to break out those whips and handcuffs.

BDSM is an umbrella term that mainly bridges bondage and discipline (B&D) with sadism and masochism (S&M). The BDSM culture, however, doesn't limit itself to these things and often includes rubber lovers, fetishists, and other types of people.

Interestingly, BDSM is listed in the latest (5th) edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is often called the "psychiatrist's bible." The manual does not list BDSM as a disorder, and instead refers to the practice as a paraphilia, or unusual sexual fixation.

Either way, studies have failed to link BDSM and other kinks with psychological problems, so some psychiatrists see the manual's inclusion of the practices as a bit stigmatizing, according to LiveScience.

In the new study, published recently in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers had 902 BDSM and 434 non-BDSM, or vanilla, participants fill out questionnaires. They didn't tell the participants the true purpose of the surveys, which asked numerous questions about their personality, sensitivity to rejection, style of attachment in relationships and overall well-being.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, BDSM practitioners who often played the dominant role in their sexual acts scored highest across the board, compared with submissives and switches (people who go between dominant and submissive roles). But even the submissives, who scored lowest out of those three groups, still frequently scored higher than vanilla participants on the mental health surveys (and never lower). LiveScience explains:

The new results reveal that on a basic level, BDSM practitioners don't appear to be more troubled than the general population. They were more extroverted, more open to new experiences and more conscientious than vanilla participants; they were also less neurotic, a personality trait marked by anxiety. BDSM aficionados also scored lower than the general public on rejection sensitivity, a measure of how paranoid people are about others disliking them.

People in the BDSM scene reported higher levels of well-being in the past two weeks than people outside it, and they reported more secure feelings of attachment in their relationships, the researchers found.

The researchers aren't yet sure why people who are into BDSM appear to be more psychologically healthy than the rest of the population, but suggest it may have to do with being more aware of their sexual needs and desires, leading to less overall frustration in their physical and emotional relationships.

Read more about the study and its findings over at LiveScience, or check out the abstract of the paper in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Top image via dualdflipflop / Flickr