Spicy Sex (BDSM / Kink / Leathersex / PE)

Spicy sex may be thought of as any sex outside the mainstream. For some that would still include oral-genital sex, but more usually spicy sex sex refers to sexual pleasures such as bondage, impact play, FF, power exchange (PE),  role-play, fetishes and cross-dressing.  Erotic pain-play is sometimes part of spicy sex, but often is not.

Dr. McConnell prefers the term “spicy” rather than most of the current labels (kink, BDSM, leather, D/s, M/s, etcetera.)  “Spicy” pairs well with “vanilla” without any of the clinical baggage that comes with the other labels.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association both view spicy sex as normal, as long as it involves consenting adults, and as long as it doesn’t cause marked stress.  If a person has marked stress about either their fantasies of spicy sex or engaging in spicy sex, then this is considered a disorder worthy of treatment.  These official positions, like the APA’s views on Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and  Transgenders, is exactly the opposite of what it was 40 years ago.

There have been substantial research studies that find people who enjoy spicy sex are as healthy and happy as those who enjoy vanilla.

  • For many people spicy sex is simply hotter, more fun and more fulfilling than vanilla sex.  Some include a small bit of spicy sex as part of their diet.
  • For others spicy sex is a strong or exclusive erotic preference but kept only “in the bedroom”,  
  • And for yet others “spicy” is   a core identity that is integrated with all aspects of intimacy and much of their social life.

For some persons spicy sex is an occasional pleasure which they feel free to enjoy or decide to pass up, and remains so throughout their life.  For others being spicy is their core sexual orientation just as being gay or het is a sexual orientation.   More than just a sexual dimension, for some this is a sexual identity or way of experiencing the self which organizes many facets of social and intimate relationships.  For these people being spicy  is as core to their sense of self as being gay or straight: just as self-acceptance of being gay is essential for a gay, bi or lesbian person to be in a loving and intimate relationship,   the self-acceptance of their spicy self-identity is essential to intimate loving.

It is a myth that a taste of spicy sex always leads to a constantly increasing desire for  more intense spice, like some kind of drug.

Because persons with these less common erotic and gender identities are often discriminated against, they frequently internalize shame, have difficulty coming out, or have difficulty accepting these parts of themselves.  This is often the case when negative attitudes toward a person’s gender identity or erotic identity is internalized at a young age. As one gay man put it: “I learned to hate myself for being homosexual before I knew that I was one.” Something similar might be said by most persons who at a young age realized their transgender or spicy fantasies were scorned. These internalized negative attitudes can impede the development of friendships and intimacy, and treatment can help heal  this damage.

It is remarkable that despite over a century of therapy by tens of  thousands of therapists who  tried to change spicy people into vanilla, there is not a single well designed research study that has found this “re-orientation” is successful.

In 1994 the American Psychiatric Association removed kinky sex from the list of psychiatric disorders, unless it involves minors, non-consent, or “marked distress” (DSM-IV).  The current edition of DSM states clearly “that paraphilias are not ipso facto [in themselves] psychiatric disorders”(DSM 5.0).  Professionals and academics refer to spicy sex as “the paraphlias”.  Para comes from the Greek word for beside, while philia means attraction or love. So paraphilia means a sexual attraction other than (beside) what is typical.

Mental health professionals are now – with very few exceptions – gay-affirmative. Sadly, although enjoying spicy sex or (being trans) is no longer considered a disorder by the APA, many psychotherapists have not kept up with this change.  Many psychotherapists remain stuck with views about spicy (and trans) people that are distorted by old stereotypes and view these desires as problems to be changed. These therapists often attempt what Dr. Braun-Harvey calls a psychological “erotic-ectomy” on their patients, i.e.,  they try to “cut out” the spicy erotic desires and  replace them with vanilla desires.  Such therapists often work toward this goal even when it clearly is not the stated goal of the client.  Therapy that is directed at repressing or eliminating these desires typically creates shame and self-hatred, and this reduces the person’s overall capacity for erotic pleasure and their capacity for intimacy. Patients subjected to this kind of treatment may end up feeling passionless, generally inhibited, and somewhat “empty.”

Dr. McConnell has treated hundreds of patients who were in recovery from previous therapy that attempted to change their gender identity from trans to cis,  or their sexual orientation from gay to straight, or from spicy to vanilla.