The Psychiatric Opinion About SM
In recent years as more research has been published, the mental health and medical communities have begun to accept that SM is a safe, legitimate pursuit.
According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) which defines currently recognized mental disorders, SM per se is NOT a mental disorder. In their diagnostic criteria for both sexual masochism and sexual sadism, the DSM-IV states that SM only becomes a diagnosable dysfunction when:
"the fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning."
In addition, the DSM-IV clearly allows for non-pathological sexual behavior:
"a paraphilia must be distinguished from the non-pathological use of sexual fantasies, behavior or objects as a stimulus for sexual excitement."
[The entire diagnostic criteria for sexual masochism and sexual sadism are reproduced Appendix A.]