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When Stigma Gets in the Way of Kink

Leatherman in a body harness looking down
Sam Hughes is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, specializing in research on kink, BSDM, and Sexual Fetishism. In an interview he explains how stigma can lead to mental health problems: “Being rejected by partners, family members, or experiencing discrimination can lead to a great deal of mental strain. Worrying that one’s desires make one sick, crazy, wrong, possessed by the Devil, or immoral can take a heavy emotional toll on people, and in a process called minority stress, may be associated with depression and suicidality. Similarly, for kinky people who are closeted about their desires, worrying that their desires will be discovered can lead to hypervigilance and resultant anxiety problems.”