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What is SM?: Appendix A

American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. These criteria are listed in the Paraphilia section, pg. 525.

Diagnostic criteria for 302.83 Sexual Masochism:

  • Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound or otherwise made to suffer.
  • The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Diagnostic criteria for 302.84 Sexual Sadism

Learn more about NCSF's work to depathologize BDSM in the DSM

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Why You Should Care

Because your sexual expression...
  • Can result in discrimination, prosecution, and even violence against you
  • Can cause you to lose your children
  • Can cause you to lose your job or your income
  • Can lead you into a maze of antiquated laws and regulations you never even knew existed
  • Is arbitrarily criminalized by state and local authorities
  • Is used by the radical right to marginalize minority groups
  • Can result in the invasion of your privacy by the government, both within your own home or in educational, social and group environments 

How You Can Help

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    • Oppose censorship of consensual sexual expression
    • Fight for freedom of academic expression about sexual issues
    • Help communities and individuals facing the threat of prosecution or legal action
    • Support the right of adults to express their sexuality, gender identity and orientation freely and openly without fear
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