Wow, what a cool question! Please understand that my answer is purely observational. I’ve been in scene for decades, and I’ve talked to so, so many people who have made it a lifestyle choice.
Here’s what I’ve seen. There’s something that people who do not have degrees call “artistic temperament.” I’d describe this as someone who is very passionate about their creative process. If they’re disturbed during that creative process the results can be quite volatile. But these same volatile individuals usually (though not always) create the best stuff, be that sculpture, painting, music, writing etc.
For the longest time these individuals have been associated with Bipolar. But I’ve read a few articles lately that have started to speculate about the diagnostic process, especially when it comes to women, but really all across the board. The more we examine the workings of the human mind, the more we are forced to admit… we really don’t know what we’re talking about.
Yes, I’m getting to your question – Promise!
My clients are / were people involved in the BDSM scene, but who feel guilty about it. They want to relax into it and enjoy themselves, but usually they’re too busy beating themselves up first. And more often than not there’s a diagnosis involved. Usually more than one, because once you start down that path it tends to change. It might start as Major Depressive, then go to Bipolar, add on PTSD, subtract Bipolar, add personality disorders… it’s a continually evolving process.
But just lately, say within the last 2 years, I started hearing the word “autism” pop up quite frequently. Either it was in addition to all the others, or sometimes all the other labels were tossed out in favor of this brand new one. Call it “On the spectrum” or “Asperger’s” or “Autism” – I heard all of them with various levels of acceptance.
So is there a link? Clinically I can’t answer that. But if sheer observation is useful to you, I’d say definitely.