Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent upon self-identification and shared experience.and is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism).Since the 1980s, many practitioners and organizations have adopted the motto (originally from the statement of purpose of GMSMA—a gay SM activist organization) "safe, sane and consensual", commonly abbreviated as "SSC", which means that everything is based on safe activities, that all participants be of sufficiently sound/sane mind to consent, and that all participants do consent.Some BDSM practitioners prefer a code of behavior that differs from "SSC" and is described as "risk-aware consensual kink" (RACK), indicating a preference for a style in which the individual responsibility of the involved parties is emphasized more strongly, with each participant being responsible for his or her own well-being.Despite the bottom performing the action and the top receiving they have not necessarily switched roles.The abbreviations "sub" and "dom" are frequently used instead of "submissive" and "dominant".
The fundamental principles for the exercise of BDSM require that it should be performed with the informed consent of all involved parties.
For the medical condition in which pain/humiliation is required for sexual arousal and causes distress or impairment, see Sexual masochism disorder.
BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other related interpersonal dynamics.
The resulting consent and understanding is occasionally summarized in a written "contract", which is an agreement of what can and cannot take place.
Use of the agreed safeword (or occasionally a "safe symbol" such as dropping a ball or ringing a bell, especially when speech is restricted) is seen by some as an explicit withdrawal of consent.