In the Psychiatric world, BDSM is what is known as a paraphilia. Paraphilias are atypical sexual interests that consist of intense sexual arousal towards certain behaviours, fantasies, objects, individuals, or certain situations [1]. 

How common is BDSM?

Research from Justin Lehmiller [2] found that BDSM is the second most common sexual fantasy among Americans today and that, of the 4,175 respondents, only 4 percent of women and 7 percent of men said they have never had fantasies about BDSM before.

Similar studies have also been conducted to see just how common BDSM is. In a Canadian study conducted by Joyal and Carpentier [3], it was reported that of the 1,040 respondents, nearly 47 percent of the women and nearly 60 percent of the men said they had fantasized about dominating someone sexually while slightly more women, and slightly less men, were into the idea of being dominated.

A study by Herbenick et al., [4] also reported similar findings. In their research, it was reported that of the 2,021 respondents, roughly 30 percent of American adults are into spanking, 20 percent like to play with restraints, and 13 percent like to use whips and floggers. 

Conclusion

Based off recent data, perhaps it is time that to revisit the idea that BDSM is atypical, as recent research indicates that BDSM is quite the popular fantasy and quite the popular activity in the bedroom. 

References 

1 - American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). P. 685-686. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

2 - Lehmiller, J. J. (2018). Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, P. 16. S.l.: Da Capo Lifelong Books. 

3 - Joyal, C. C., & Carpentier, J. (2016). The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Behaviors in the General Population: A Provincial Survey. The Journal of Sex Research, 54(2), 161–171. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1139034. 

4 - Herbenick, D., Bowling, J., Fu, T.-C. (J., Dodge, B., Guerra-Reyes, L., & Sanders, S. (2017). Sexual diversity in the United States: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adult women and men. Plos One, 12(7). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181198