Contact Us

How Psychiatry Helps Deny Civil Rights

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that being a sadist or masochist, dominant or submissive, fetishist or having loving sexual relationships with more than one person makes you sick or is evidence of illness.  Yet counselors and psychotherapists in general are taught the "illness" theory in graduate school and maintain that perspective throughout their practice.  There are no laws protecting kinky or polyamorous people from discrimination.

Last year the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom received over nine hundred calls from people whose custody of their children was threatened or who had been arrested on "domestic violence" charges because of S/M practices.  Unfortunately, a mental health professional is frequently called upon to testify in domestic violence and divorce/child custody proceedings.  This makes the "illness" status of S/M practices a very important and practical significance.  Your mental health records may be subpoenaed, and your own therapist may be called upon to testify against you.  You may be literally unsafe if you see a mainstream psychotherapist.

Margaret Nichols, PhDTherapy in Highland ParkNew jersey Therapist

Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

View our Counseling Newsletter Archive

BDSM, Kink & Fetishism | NJ & NYC Sex Therapists

 

A recent study showed that there are more people who engage in "kinky" sexual practices than there are people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Yet BDSM is still pathologized.

BDSM, Kink and Fetishism

BDSM, variously called bondage and discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism, "leather", "kink", and "fetishism", includes a variety of so-called "nonstandard" sexual attractions and behaviors.  These include attraction to body parts or objects or materials.  While mainstream culture fetishizes, for example, breasts and lacy black negligees, kinky people often have similar interests in leather, rubber or feet.  Other forms of BDSM involve sexual practices that play with power dynamics between partners, unusual forms of stimulation such as "pain" (think:  hickies or biting at the height of sexual passion), constraint or sensory deprivation or "dark" emotions such as fear, anxiety and anger played in a theater of eroticism.  Some have called BDSM "the LSD of sex", or "sexual skydiving".  Participants in this "scene" tend to have in common an adventurous attitude and a high sex drive. There is wide variety within this community:  some people merely incorporate some kinky practices into a private sexual life as a couple, while others live a total BDSM lifestyle.
 
Recently a few voices within the mainstream sexology profession have begun not only to educate colleagues to "normalize" BDSM and fetish practices, but to also point out some of the striking sexually intelligent practices within this community - for example, the tremendous communication skills and the use of BDSM "scenes" for psychological healing.
 
Because BDSM is so misunderstood, people often experience shame and self-hatred before coming out as BDSM participants.  Secrecy about one's sexual desires can lead to problems with spouses and difficulty connecting with their community for fear of being "found out".  Those "out and proud" face other issues:  how to prevent relationship issues from "bleeding thru" into the bedroom, and vice versa, how to prevent sexual roles and dynamics from bleeding thru into the relationship.  Other issues include learning how to negotiate sometimes widely varying likes and dislikes, and deciding whether and how to integrate play with others.  These are issues an experienced and knowledgeable therapist can help you sort out before they cause difficulties in your relationships.
 

Under the leadership of IPG's founder, Dr. Margaret Nichols, our therapists have developed expertise in helping those who live within the broad range of sexual/gender/relationship lifestyles.   IPG is a Sponsoring Organization of  the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the legal advocacy group for the kink community.  Dr. Nichols and other IPG staff members are frequently called upon to train mainstream professionals about sexual minorities, and we have published numerous professional articles about "queer" sexuality (including BDSM, fetish, polyamory and G/L/B/T).  Currently, IPG advocates for the removal of consensual sexual fetishes from the list of mental diseases, and publicly lobbies mental health professionals to this end. (Also see our Publications page.)