What is Kink?


Since the advent of the Internet, we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of individuals and groups who publicly acknowledge practicing lifestyles such as polyamory, swinging, and BDSM (Francoeur, et al., 1999). Millions of adults not only engage in BDSM, swinging, and polyamorous activities, but they have developed a community that shares similar sets of values. This subculture is so large that it has over 500 different annual conventions, dozens of specialty resorts, and hundreds of private clubs that cater to these populations. The bestselling book, Fifty Shades of Grey has greatly increased the saliency of discussion about BDSM in the mainstream media.

Camille Pagila (2013), notes:

“Once confined to the murky shadows of the sexual underworld, sadomasochism and its recreational correlate, bondage and domination, have emerged into startling visibility and mainstream acceptance in books, movies, and merchandising.”

Camille Pagila

Art, folklore, and cultural fables passed down from generations show us that these sexual, gender, and relationship minorities have been a part of our human culture for as long as there has been a recorded history. Sexual, gender, and relationship outsiders have been a silent giant, patiently waiting for the world to change in a direction where their voices could be heard. This is significant because now we, as scientists, have an opportunity to study this population and ensure that they are able to receive the proper care for their unique needs. 

man in shiny fetish pvc pants makes strong dominant gesture

Prior to working with sexual outsiders, one of the fundamental skills that a clinician must have is understanding the difference between healthy sexual exploration and pathology. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V) is the standard manual accepted by the medical and mental health communities as the standard for outlining current criteria for mental illness and the toll used as reference in this blog series.


Paglia, C. (2013). Scholars in bondage: Dogma dominates studies of Kink. http://chronicle.com/article/Scholars-in-Bondage/139251/

Koch, P., Weis, D., & Francoeur, R. (1999). Sexuality in America: Understanding our sexual values and behavior. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

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