After the Change in the DSM

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For decades, the DSM has been the most reliable and quoted reference for mental disorders. It has guided the research and therapy of thousands of psychology professionals all around the world. In its latest edition (the DSM 5-IV), it changes its perceptions of the paraphilias (including bondage) from something intrinsically wrong to an unusual preference. It might not sound important, but it is a milestone as far as BDSM acceptance is concerned. So, what can we expect after the change in the DSM? We asked an expert to find out.

We asked psychologist Michael Applebaum about the effects of these changes on the most important psychological reference. Michael has a private practice, where he treats a dozen patients. And he’s also a BDSM enthusiast, willing to explore any kind of practice, at least once.

In Michael’s opinion, the change in the DSM has an immediate, liberating effect. “People who have felt guilty their whole life can now take a long breath and say to themselves, ‘I’m not guilty; I’m not a pervert. There’s nothing wrong with me.’ It might sound unimportant, but it is actually a big deal.”

“A second effect after the change in the DSM concerns us, psychologists. We cannot treat deviant practices the same way we did before. We don’t have to ‘cure’ people anymore. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need our help anymore. People who step into BDSM practices still face many challenges: predatory behavior, abuse, emotional blackmail—they are all still there.”

“Finally, after the change in the DSM, we’re invited to understand our concepts about sexuality under a new light. To me, the current reshaping of gender roles and the acceptance of BDSM practices are related. We’re liberating sexuality according to the newly proclaimed right to an identity. There’s a lot of work ahead. But, if you ask me, it sounds like an exciting new road ahead of us.”

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