“Unusual” Sexual Fantasies Are A Lot More Common Than You Might Think

“Unusual” Sexual Fantasies Are A Lot More Common Than You Might Think

Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to unusual sexual interests. In other words, a paraphilia represents a desire for an uncommon sexual object or activity. Hundreds of different paraphilias have been described at one time or another; however, there are only eight specific paraphilias listed in the current DSM: fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism.

While these interests have long been thought to be rare, little data exists regarding their prevalence in the population at large. In fact, the vast majority of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which don’t really give us much indication as to how many people might have these interests at one time or another. However, recent research suggests that they’re far more common than previously thought. 

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Video: 10 Questions About Sex

Video: 10 Questions About Sex

Today, I’m answering YOUR questions about sex. I’ve put together a brief video in which I review ten questions submitted by readers of Sex and Psychology and explore what science can tell us about each one. These questions cover a very diverse range of topics, from the best sexual position for orgasm to how often people think about sex to the sexual appeal of BDSM. 

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The Deeper Psychological Meaning Behind Your Sexual Fantasies

The Deeper Psychological Meaning Behind Your Sexual Fantasies

When we hear or read about other people’s sexual fantasies, we have a tendency to focus our attention on the specific act they describe, such as a threesome or bondage, and the physical sensations that go along with it. However, our fantasies are much more complex than this and, often, they go well beyond a desire for purely physical gratification. It turns out that we’re often seeking to meet deeper psychological needs through our fantasies, too. And depending on what your needs are at a given moment, you might very well be drawn to different types of sex fantasies.

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How Many People Have "Unusual" Sexual Desires?

How Many People Have "Unusual" Sexual Desires?

Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to an unusual sexual interest. More specifically, paraphilias are recurrent desires for uncommon sexual objects or activities. Although hundreds of desires have been described as paraphilias at one time or another, there are only eight specific paraphilis that are listed in the current version of the DSM (the psychiatry bible): fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism (see below for definitions).

Though these interests have long been thought to be rare, very little data exists that can speak to their prevalence in the general population. In fact, almost all of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which doesn’t really give us much sense as to how many people might have had these interests at one time or another. However, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some insight.

 

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4 Theories on the Origin of Sexual Masochism

4 Theories on the Origin of Sexual Masochism

Masochists are people who find certain types of pain--such as biting, spanking, and flogging--to be sexually arousing. It has long been thought that finding pain to be a turn-on is an atypical desire. In fact, psychologists formally classified masochism as a paraphilia (i.e., an unusual sexual interest) long ago, lumping it in the same category as fetishism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. However, recent research suggests that masochism isn't so rare after all. As some evidence of this, a recent survey of over 1,500 Canadian adults found that more than one-third of women and more than one-quarter of men reported having fantasized about being spanked or whipped before (learn more about this study here).

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5 Things You Should Know About Unusual Sexual Interests And The People Who Have Them

5 Things You Should Know About Unusual Sexual Interests And The People Who Have Them

Psychologists use the term paraphilia to refer a wide range of unusual sexual interests, including—but not limited to—exhibitionism, voyeurism, sadism, masochism, and fetishism. Because sexual desires and behaviors that fall under the paraphilia umbrella tend to be widely misunderstood, I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at some of the key things scientists have learned about them.

1.) Having a paraphilia does not necessarily mean that you have a psychological disorder.

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Feeder Fetishes: The World Of Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feeder Fetishes: The World Of Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feederism has been described as "a fat fetish focused on erotic eating, feeding, and gaining weight." There are two basic types of people who exist in this fetish culture: feeders and feedees. Feeders are people who derive sexual pleasure from feeding other people and watching them gain weight. In contrast, feedees are people who derive sexual pleasure from being fed by others and gaining weight. Feederism is considered to be a paraphilia (i.e., an unusual or uncommon sexual interest); however, the jury is still out on whether it represents its own unique sexual interest, or whether it is best considered a variant of some other established paraphilia(s). For instance, some psychologists have argued that feederism has characteristics that overlap with morphophilia (i.e., sexual attraction to a specific bodily characteristic--in this case, fatness) and with sadomasochism (i.e., sexual arousal associated with physical and/or psychological pain, often involving themes of dominance and submission--in the case of feederism, there are usually elements of power/control and humiliation). 

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Five Scientific Facts You Should Know About BDSM Sex And Those Who Practice It

Five Scientific Facts You Should Know About BDSM Sex And Those Who Practice It

BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism) is a widely misunderstood set of sexual practices. There are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there about both the people who are into BDSM, as well as what it is that they do sexually. Unfortunately, popular media depictions of BDSM (e.g., Fifty Shades of Grey) have only served to reinforce many of these misconceptions. In light of this, here's what you really need to know about BDSM according to the science.

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Sex Question Friday: Why Are Some People Aroused By Sexual Humiliation?

Sex Question Friday: Why Are Some People Aroused By Sexual Humiliation?

A reader submitted the following question: 

“I wanted to inquire into a ‘strange’ fetish where the man likes his woman to convince him he has undersized manhood. ‘Small penis humiliation’ as it's known. Why is this arousing for some men?”

Thanks for this interesting question. While I have heard of small penis humiliation before, unfortunately, there isn’t any research focusing on it specifically (at least not yet). As far as I can tell, this term is one that seems to be restricted in use primarily to porn websites. However, what I can do is tell you what the research on sexual humiliation more broadly has to say.

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Why “Fifty Shades of Grey” Is Not A How-To Guide For BDSM

Why “Fifty Shades of Grey” Is Not A How-To Guide For BDSM

This Valentine’s Day weekend, a lot of couples will be heading out for dinner and a movie—and for many of them, their film of choice is likely to be the big-screen adaptation of the popular book Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades tells the tale of Christian Grey, a successful and sexy businessman who introduces a young female college student, Anastasia Steele, to the world of bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM). For some viewers of this film, it may very well be their first exposure to the topic of BDSM—and that’s rather unfortunate. Not only does Fifty Shades perpetuate false stereotypes about the people who are into BDSM, but it also presents an inaccurate portrayal of how BDSM plays out in the real world.

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How Common Are BDSM Fantasies? (Infographic)

How Common Are BDSM Fantasies? (Infographic)

Sexual fantasies about bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) have long been deemed to be "unusual" or "deviant." But are they really all that rare? A new study just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that BDSM fantasies are probably more common than previously thought. Check out the infographic below for a look at the numbers. Keep in mind that this sample is not representative, so you should not necessarily assume that these numbers reflect BDSM interest more broadly--however, they do suggest that BDSM is probably far from an "unusual" fantasy.

What do you fantasize about? Tell us about it and take part in the largest and most comprehensive study of sexual fantasies ever by clicking here.

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What Do Sadists and Masochists Actually Do In Bed?

What Do Sadists and Masochists Actually Do In Bed?

In my last article, I discussed the prevalence of sexual sadism and masochism based upon results from the latest Reader Survey. This survey revealed that 50% of readers reported experiences with sadism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from giving pain) and 51% with masochism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from receiving pain). The goal of this article is to explore in more depth and detail how sadomasochism is actually experienced among readers who completed the survey. Specifically, what type of pain was most common (physical vs. psychological), and how intense was it? And what types of sadomasochistic acts were practiced most frequently?

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How Common Are Sexual Sadism and Masochism?

How Common Are Sexual Sadism and Masochism?

Results from the latest Reader Survey are in and, as usual, they’re absolutely fascinating! The most recent survey inquired about experiences with what have traditionally been considered paraphilic behaviors (i.e., sexual behaviors that are unusual or uncommon). Although this survey asked about a variety of paraphilic behaviors, what I want to focus on here are readers’ experiences with sexual sadism and masochism. Before we get to the results, let me first clarify that when I say “paraphilic behaviors,” I do not mean “disordered behaviors.” The fact of the matter is that you can have an uncommon sexual interest and still be a perfectly healthy person.

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Are People Who Practice BDSM Psychologically Disturbed?

Are People Who Practice BDSM Psychologically Disturbed?

There is a common perception that people who practice bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) have major psychological issues. As some evidence of this, just take a look at how people who practice BDSM are portrayed in the popular media. For instance, consider the following excerpt from the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey:

“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft gray eyes. “Because I’m fifty shades of f*cked up, Anastasia.” (page 369)

The title character, Christian Grey, is depicted as carrying a lot of emotional baggage.  Not only did he have an abusive childhood, but he was introduced to sex at a relatively young age by one of his mother’s female friends. The book implies that these experiences helped shape Grey’s dominant persona and interest in BDSM. So is this an accurate reflection of reality? Do people who are into BDSM really have more issues? A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests not.

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Strange Sex: Tales Of Sexual Arousal From Stinging Insects

The buzz on the Internet last week was the story of a Swedish man who supposedly died after having sex with a hornets’ nest. According to various media reports, the man’s pubic hair and semen were found inside the nest and he had been stung 146 times, leaving his body so swollen that he looked like “a beached whale.” After making the rounds in the international media, it was discovered that the story was a hoax perpetrated by News Sweden, the Swedish equivalent of The Onion. What may surprise you, however, is that this story isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds because there are indeed some people in this world who derive sexual arousal from stinging insects.
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Why The Harvard “Munch” Club Is Not Actual News

Last week, the Harvard College Munch became an official student organization on campus. The goal of this group is to provide a forum for students who are interested in “kinky” sex to discuss their interests and to build a community. As soon as word of the club’s approval hit the street, the national and international news media picked it up and ran story after story about the new “sex club” at Harvard. This became such a huge media frenzy that the Munch was a top story on CNN.com all weekend, snatched headlines around the globe, and prompted heated debates on some of the biggest political talk shows. But is it really a more important point of discussion than the “fiscal cliff” or any of the actual newsworthy events going on in the world right now? No. And here’s why…
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Is "Fifty Shades Of Grey" An Accurate Depiction Of The BDSM Community?

“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft gray eyes. “Because I’m fifty shades of f*cked up, Anastasia.” – Excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey (page 369)

It seems as though everyone and their mothers (and a fair number of grandmothers, from what I hear) has read E. L. James’ erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The book describes the sexual exploits of Christian Grey, a successful and sexy businessman who introduces a young female college student (Anastasia Steele) to the world of bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM). After hearing so much about Fifty Shades, I couldn’t help but wonder about the contents of this book. Is it an accurate depiction of the BDSM community, or is it pure fiction? As you'll see below, the answer to this question is somewhat of a grey area.

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Sex Question Friday: Pain and Pleasure, Pregnancy without Penetration, and How Straight People Respond to Gay Porn

Sex Question Friday: Pain and Pleasure, Pregnancy without Penetration, and How Straight People Respond to Gay Porn
Every Friday on the blog, I answer a few burning sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week, we’re going to talk about why some people mix pain with pleasure, whether you can get pregnant without ever having sexual intercourse, and whether heterosexual men and women become sexually aroused when watching gay porn.
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