A new survey shows that contrary to the general assumption that people involved in bondage and discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) are sexually deficient, such people are not damaged or dangerous, and might even be happier than those who practise "normal" sex.
The study of 20,000 Australians by public health researchers at the University of New South Wales has revealed that two per cent of adult Australians regularly partake in sadomasochism and dominance and submission-type sexual role-play.
The findings suggest that these people do not do so in reaction to sexual abuse or because they are "sexually deficient" in some way.
"Our findings support the idea that bondage and discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) is simply a sexual interest or subculture attractive to a minority," News.com.au quoted Associate Professor Juliet Richters and her colleagues as writing in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The researchers even said that the practice was more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and that participants were more likely to have been more sexually adventurous in other ways.
"However, they were no more likely to have been coerced into sexual activity and were not significantly more likely to be unhappy or anxious," said Prof Richters, author of the book Doing It Down Under.
The findings also suggested that men who took parting in such acts might be happier, as they were found to score significantly lower on a scale of psychological distress than other men.
Though the researchers did not study why that was the case, they suspected that it might simply be that they were more in harmony with themselves because they were into something unusual and are comfortable with that.
Prof Richters said that the findings went against professional views of BDSM.
"People with these sexual interests have long been seen by medicine and the law as, at best, damaged and in need of therapy and, at worst, dangerous and in need of legal regulation," she said.
She also revealed that there was an assumption that those involved in BDSM were sexually deficient in some way, "and need particularly strong stimuli such as being beaten or tied up to become aroused".
She expressed hope that her findings would help change those stereotypes.