Pathology is the study of disease. From the wiki, "In humans, "disease" is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person."
Of course it's possible to do D/s badly. But for many people who practice it, it leaves them feeling more satisfied, happy, loving, whole and well-adjusted. How, then, can it be a disease? The key is the BDSM trifecta of "safe, sane and consensual."
D/s is not about a gloating dom taking advantage of a poor, confused and abused sub. The person in the dom position takes on a huge position of trust and responsibility. A good dom needs to be sensitive, caring and loving to their partner, and strives to give them what they want and need while recognizing them as a unique, beautiful and complex individual. And ultimately, the sub has just as much power as the dom, because they set the initial rules of how much they will give, what they want in return, and they can walk away or renegotiate at any time.
Ultimately, I think explaining D/s to a vanilla person is just as hard as explaining sex to an asexual person or poly to a die-hard mono. It's possible to understand it intellectually but if it's not for you then you're unlikely to ever *really* "get it". That's not meant as a judgment, just a fact.
So please, just try to accept that there's nothing inherently wrong with people who want D/s, whether it's in the bedroom or in the living room.
From xeromag.com (yes, the same guy who writes so brilliantly about poly has a big section on his site about BDSM):
"Uh-huh. Sure. The needs of the submissive. Right. The dominant is the one bossing the other person around; you'd have to be some kind of jerk to want to do that.
While that may seem like it makes sense on the surface, the truth is just the opposite. People who are good at dominating or inflicting pain are,in general, LESS likely than many other people to be jerks or assholes.
Why? Because in order to be good at doing it, you need to be highly in-tune with your submissive. People who are self-centered generally make poor dominants, because they lack the empathy required to be able to read and judge their partner's reactions, and bring their partner where that person wants to go. Assholes quickly find that nobody wants to play with them; and people who are empathic tend not to be assholes. All of the real top-notch dominants I've ever met, without exception, are incredibly cool people."
Obviously this is a subject that's near to my heart. In some form or another, I've been having queer fantasies, poly fantasies, and D/s fantasies since I was a young teen. I had a happy, healthy childhood, and I'm a happy, healthy adult who respects myself and other people. There is nothing wrong or sick about my desires.
The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.