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Abstract: Sexual Sadism facing the DSM-V criteria: 125 Years after the First Description of Sexual Sadism by Richard von Krafft-Ebing

The phenomenon of sexual sadism was first described scientifically by Richard von Krafft-Ebing 125 years ago. Since then, the knowledge about this disorder and the diagnostic criteria have changed. Diagnosing sexual sadism using the definition of DSM IV-TR and ICD 10) is state of the art, now. However, the diagnosis as such is unreliable and prevalence estimates vary. Therefore the presentation focuses on aspects of the history and new diagnostic approaches toward a dimensional and behavioral-based view of sexual sadism in order to improve the reliability of the diagnosis. The suggestions of the DSM V workgroup regarding amending criteria for the diagnosis of sexual sadism are discussed and further suggestions deriving from recent research are provided.


Joachim Nitschke works as Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist and also Consultant Neurologist, with a specialization in Forensic Psychiatry. He is head of the Forensic Clinic at the Ansbach District Hospital in Germany. Before that, he was the Consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Straubing District hospital. Additionally to his work as a court expert witness, he has been a scientific researcher at the Department of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Regensburg.