Pathological is an adjective as defined by American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, meaning:
1. Of or relating to pathology.
2. Relating to or caused by disease.
3. Of, relating to, or manifesting behavior that is habitual, maladaptive, and compulsive.
Therefore, a pathological person is someone who has a behavior, typically caused by or related to a disease, that causes habits, adaptations, and compulsive issues. Are sadism and masochism pathological disorders?
“Until recently, homosexuality was considered to be a mental disorder, just as sexual masochism and sexual sadism, the clinical entities that encompass BDSM behaviors, are considered to be mental disorders…” (Lawrence & Love-Crowell, 2008)
But, does this mean that just as attitudes and society have begun to change in regard to homosexuality, they may change in regard to alternative sexual variations?
“…many psychotherapists appear to have limited or inaccurate information concerning persons who engage in BDSM, to be uncomfortable working with such persons, to employ unhelpful or unethical practices with their BDSM clients, and to inappropriately pathologize BDSM activities.” (Lawrence & Love-Crowell, 2008)
If psychologists and therapists were better equipped to handle people who practice sadism or masochism, perhaps we could cure the aversion society has placed upon anything outside the predefined norm.
The Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy also says the following:
“We anticipate that experience-based clinical guidelines for psychotherapy with BDSM clients will eventually be created, based on the results of large-scale therapist surveys…” (Lawrence & Love-Crowell, 2008)
The idea that sadism, masochism, or sadomasochism ("S & M") are a pathological disease or disorder is absurd. Just because someone favors something considered abnormal does not mean there is something wrong with their thoughts, feelings, or actions. I feel that so long as all activities remain consensual between adults, it is not societies business how people have sex.