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Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities Paperback – February 19, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


Every once in a while, a book comes along that shines like a star in a vast, dark sky of words. While the subject matter — BDSM sexualities — hardly seems like the stuff of which literary classics are made, David Ortmann and Richard Sprott’s brave new book, Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities, is certainly worthy of note. Conversational in style, thick with rich descriptions of actual people, and brimming with uncommon wisdom appropriate for a post-Millineal mindset, this is a book to be borne proudly. (Plus it’s bound to be a great conversation starter on the subway commute home.) . . . You don’t have to be a sexual outsider to enjoy this book. What is required is a nonjudgmental curiosity about human sexuality in all its myriad forms. If you fit this criteria, then this is an excellent read that I highly recommend., Out In Jersey

Sexual Outsiders is a good step in making the helping professions understand [kinky people and BDSM sexuality].,
The History of BDSM

In Sexual Outsiders, authors David Ortmann and Richard Sprott perfectly complement each other writing about research, theory, and therapeutic practice with clients who are sexual adventurers. In an excellent and thoughtful deconstruction of the mainstream sexual culture, they explore the question of "how did we get here?" and, further, "how can we get somewhere better?" They propose the acceptance and honoring of the rich complexities of sexual diversity as a path for escaping the imposed shame that can constrict out lives, as they offer a wonderful guidebook to outsider sex and understanding power as an erotic resource. Read and learn from these warriors for sexual freedom as they show us how to explore our precious inner wilderness. -- Dossie Easton, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; co-author of The Ethical Slut

David Ortmann and Richard Sprott are pioneers in developing this roadmap for kink-affirmative psychotherapy. People in the BDSM community, or those practicing in secrecy, will read this book, especially the moving personal stories, and feel like they are in a support group. Professionals will have their minds - and knowledge base- opened and expanded. Sexual Outsiders breaks new ground. -- Margie Nichols, Ph.D., Phd, psychologist and sex therapist; founder and director of the Institute for Personal Growth, New Jersey; founder and first director of the Hyacinth Foundation; author, speaker, and activist on LGBTQ issues; contributor, Principles and Practices of Sex Therapy and Handbook of Systemic Sex Therapy

As a sex therapist who specializes in sexual minority practices, I have read virtually every book written on BDSM in the past 30 years. Sexual Outsiders is truly one of a kind. The way the authors have woven in Richard Sprott's background in science with David Ortmann's clinical practice made for a very compelling read. The case studies were brilliant and kept me turning the pages in anticipation of how each story would turn out. This book is a wonderful contribution to our field. -- Neil Cannon, Ph.D., LMFT, Certified Sex Therapist & Couples Counselor, Denver, Colorado

Sexual Outsiders is a brave and lucid exploration of ways honest, open, intimate sexuality can help to heal some emotional and psychological wounds, and of the need for self-understanding to make such intimacy possible. -- William A. Henkin, Ph.D., co-author: Consensual Sadomasochism: How to Talk About It and How to Do It Safely

Sexual Outsiders is a significant contribution helping everyone to accept and understand their (or their loved one’s) BDSM interests. -- Charles Moser Ph.D., Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

As an out-kinky person for 40 years, and as a psychotherapist, I found Ortmann and Sprott's new book Sexual Outsiders to be a report on being kinky from a psychological point of view. Sexual Outsiders offers the reader an invaluable amalgamation of kink identities. Whether the reader be a leather-newbie, a vanilla but kink-friendly therapist, a curious friend of a kinkster, or anyone who may be in contact with BDSM folk, Sexual Outsiders is a book you won't want to miss. As the commodification of BDSM culture proliferates, it will be books like Sexual Outsiders that'll prove to be a positive catalyst toward ending social stigma, and to putting suffering back in the dungeon where it belongs. -- Winston Wilde, DHS, LMFT, doctor of human sexuality, licensed marriage & family therapist, certified sex therapist

This is the book I needed 15 years ago when I started stumbling my way through treating the KINK community. It's answered all my questions.It should be mandatory reading for all ethical clinicians who should know something about treating alternative sexualities by now. The clinical community needs to STOP re-traumatizing, marginalizing, pathologizing, and trying to "fix" the people who come to them for help. Either they need to learn the skills taught in this book, or refer "sexual outsiders" out to someone educated, trained and willing to give these individuals the treatment they need and deserve. This book is for anyone who practices BDSM, treats patients struggling with related issues, and for anyone interested in further understanding this lifestyle and its community. -- Dorothy Hayden, LCSW, Manhattan Center for Sex Addiction Therapy, Kink-Aware psychotherapist, speaker and author

Every person who identifies as BDSM and every therapist treating them should read this book. -- David J. Ley, Ph.D., author of The Myth of Sex Addiction and Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and The Men Who Love Them

Sexual Outsiders serves as a gentle introduction to BDSM while exploring the psychological needs of people who decide to explore this powerful realm of sexuality. There are few books that so beautifully position themselves as BDSM primers for the curious newcomer as well as the partners, friends and family of BDSM practitioners. This book does just that brilliantly and is destined to become a classic of the genre. -- Race Bannon, co-founder of Kink Aware Professionals, author of Learning The Ropes: A Basic Guide to Safe and Fun BDSM Lovemaking, and blogger (

About the Author

David M. Ortmann, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, sex therapist and author in private practice. His work has been published in journals, magazines, and anthologies of fiction and non-fiction. His areas of clinical focus and study are the sexuality of the BDSM, Leather and Kink communities, concepts and theories of masculinity, and the processes of human attachment and differentiation. He speaks locally and nationally in an effort to promote Leather, Kink, and BDSM community visibility and improve clinical psychotherapeutic interventions for these populations.

Ortmann is a member of The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (NCSPP) and is one of the founding members of the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS).

Richard Sprott, Ph.D., is a research psychologist in developmental science and lecturer in the Department of Human Development and Women’s Studies at California State University, East Bay. He is the executive director of CARAS, the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities, a community-academic partnership to enhance and encourage scientific investigation and scholarly analysis of under-studied sexualities, like BDSM and polyamory.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rl (February 19, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 184 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1442217367
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1442217362
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.46 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73 ratings

About the author

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David Ortmann was first published at age twenty-five, his critically acclaimed essay “Hearing Voices” appearing in TELLING TALES OUT OF SCHOOL (Alyson 1998, ed. K. Jennings). In it, Ortmann revealed a few slivers of the traumatic abuse he survived as a queer kid growing up in 1980s New Jersey.

Ortmann’s groundbreaking first book, SEXUAL OUTSIDERS: UNDERSTANDING BDSM SEXUALITIES AND COMMUNITIES (co-authored with Richard Sprott, PhD.), was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2013. His chapter on Sex, Erotic Powerplay, and Kink debuts in PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF SEX THERAPY, Edition 6 (Guilford, 2020, ed. K. Hall and Y. Binik). His chapter is the first to address this provocative, salient topic in the 50-year history of the book.

Ortmann’s writings have appeared in fiction and non-fiction anthologies, journals and magazines; he is the go-to expert for au courant journalists seeking inimitable, practical and straight-forward advice on human sexuality and relationships. His expert opinions have appeared in over fifty magazines, journals, radio shows, podcasts, and television.

Ortmann is a licensed sex therapist, psychotherapist, educator, activist, and speaker. He divides his time between San Francisco and Manhattan where he maintains private psychotherapy and sex therapy practices.

His debut novel, UNDER THE BOARDWALK, is forthcoming and he is at work on his second novel, STILL LIFE.

“I love animals of all kinds (humans included), sleeping, and getting lost on long walks through Central Park.”

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
73 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

3.0 out of 5 stars Good seller, good product
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 12, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, but....
Reviewed in Germany on July 12, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, but....
Reviewed in Germany on July 12, 2022
+ Readable for all people
+ Research & practice based
+ A lot of examples
+ No matter which paradigm are you into this is a good literature for councelors, social workers, reseachers, therapists, and clinical practicers

- page 134: I think this should be "Dr. Robbins".
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful look into the world of BDSM from a Sex ...
Reviewed in Canada on July 26, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of alternative sexualities
Reviewed in Canada on October 5, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read.
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