Max Mosley is facing calls to resign as president of Formula One after News of the World published an exposé about his sex life. In a video obtained by the British tabloid, a prostitute straps the 67-year-old Mosley to a bench and beats him with a cane; then Mosley switches roles: He shouts orders in German while he lashes prostitutes dressed in imitation death camp uniforms. Mosley’s bedroom habits may be distasteful, but are they pathological?
Not necessarily. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual recognizes eight major paraphilias, or aberrant sexual urges: exhibitionism, fetishism, frotteurism (the desire to rub against a person), pedophilia, transvestic fetishism (attraction to the clothing of the opposite gender), voyeurism, masochism, and sadism. But the big eight aren’t considered diagnosable disorders unless the activity (or fantasy about the activity) is recurrent, causes significant emotional distress, impairs social functioning, or involves a violation of consent. So, consensual S&M that doesn’t lead to, say, crippling guilt is not classified as a disease.
As for the orgy’s Nazi overtones, Nazi costumes and other paraphernalia are not unheard of in the sexual role-play subculture. Like biker gear, SS outfits can heighten the sense of a "top/bottom" power differential, which, to some, is highly arousing. Mosley may have some demons to exorcise (his father, Oswald, was a known Nazi sympathizer), but his penchant for sinister playacting doesn’t demonstrate any form of psychosis.