Cultural humility in healthcare is an expansion of cultural competence. It is the ability of healthcare professionals to provide respectful, relevant, linguistically appropriate care that values the diversity, beliefs, and cultural contexts of our client’s worlds.  In fact, it is an ever-evolving process and a commitment to engage self-reflection and learning.

Here at TASHRA we feel it is important for clinicians to become culturally informed about kink. To do this, we encourage client-centered care which focuses on the parts of the client’s kink identity (their cultural identity) that are most important to them. When providing culturally humble care, it reminds clinicians to stay mindful of the power imbalances that exist within the patient-provider relationship, promoting mutually respectful and giving interactions, and values the significance of kink community involvement and the role that clinicians may be asked to play in fighting stigma, stereotypes, and injustice. advocacy for kink identified people everywhere.

History of Pathology of BDSM and Kink

In the U.S. over the past 30 years, the procedural process of declassifying consensual kink as a psychiatric disorder has been spearheaded by a number of renowned individuals, in particular,  kink activist, Race Bannon; psychotherapist, Guy Baldwin; physician and researcher, Charles Moser and Susan Wright of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). The publication of the 1987 DSM III-R (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which is the reference book for diagnosis of psychiatric illness, changed the classification of BDSM and kink as a“sexual deviation” into a new category of disorder called paraphilias; a distressing change that codified even voluntary involvement in BDSM and kink as mental illness. This set in motion over 30 years of research and advocacy to bring about incremental changes in how consensual and non-distressing sexual interests and behaviors could be separated from non-consensual and/or distressing sexual interests and behaviors.

Today, in the most recent DSM 5-R, kink and BDSM interests that are of clinical concern – paraphilic disorders are defined by impairment, distress and/or non-consent. These are distinctly separate in the DSM 5 from paraphilias – which are non-mainstream sexual interests but are non-problematic and non-distressing sexual expressions, like kink and fetish interests. Yet, there is still more work to do. BDSM and kink sexuality continue to be seen by some medical professionals, many of whom may have little sexuality training, as indicative of maladaptive coping, trauma, or dark personality traits, which have not been shown in repeated research with practicing members of kink in the general population.

Evolution of Kink Studies

In this video, Richard Sprott, PhD and Robert Bienvenu, Ph.D., both scholars on BDSM, will describe the history and the evolution of kink studies within the fields of medicine, psychiatry, psychology and related fields, giving you perspective on where we have come from and where we are now.