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  • Alexandra Gold

Exploring the Positive Impacts of Kink

Exploring the Positive Impacts of Kink: The TASHRA 2016 Kink Health Survey

Past research regarding kink and mental health has exclusively looked at the frequency of mental disorders, psychological distress, and trauma among people who practice BDSM. The 2016 Kink Health Survey conducted by TASHRA explored the positive impacts of kink sexuality on psychological well-being. The results indicate that for some folks, participation in alternative sexualities can be a source of personal growth and healing.


Kink Role/Identity and coded corresponding positive impacts of kink


The recorded positive impacts of kink varied depending on the individual’s sexual role or identity.


Complementary roles in kink activities or relationships


Those identifying as Bottom, Switch, Masochist or Slave wrote most commonly about autonomy and positive relations with others as an area where kink had a positive effect, whereas those identifying as Top, Sadist, Dominant or Master/Mistress wrote mostly about self-acceptance, positive relationships, and autonomy in their answers. Positive relationships were an especially important theme of well-being for those who identified as Sadists

Such nuances are important to note. However, despite role or identity, personal growth, which includes whether one uses personal talents to realize one’s potential, was a common theme in the responses about positive effects on well-being. One respondent said the following when asked to expand on his experiences—

“My involvement has allowed me to heal from past abuse and other injuries inflicted by others as both a child and as an adult. I grew up in a very violent household and thought for many years that was "normal" to the point of ending up in several relationships as an adult which were continuations of that unfortunately. However my Leather/Kink involvement showed me that that was not true and gave me the tools and ability with the help of mentors and friends to heal and move away from that in my life and to become a stronger person as well as a mentor/teacher myself in time.”  

— [49-year-old White/Native American male with kink identities as Switch, Dominant, Submissive, Sadist and Masochist]

Kink studies have been hindered by widely held but largely unexamined cultural values about sex. In exploring kink in all its complexity, TASHRA aims to scrutinize the cultural stigma surrounding sexuality and validate the stories of those who identify as kinky.

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