From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- Sadomasochism is to sex what war is to civil life: the magnificent experience. ... As the social contract seems tame in comparison with war, so fucking and sucking come to seem merely nice, and therefore unexciting. --Susan Sontag in Fascinating Fascism
- The most common and the most significant of all the perversions -- the desire to inflict pain upon the sexual object, and its reverse -- received from Krafft-Ebbing the names of "Sadism" and "Masochism" for its active and passive forms respectively. --Sigmund Freud, "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality," 1905
- Sadism [and masochism] is not a name finally given to a practice as old as Eros; it is a massive cultural fact which appeared precisely at the end of the eighteenth century, and which constitutes one of the greatest conversions of Western imagination: unreason transformed into delirium of the heart, madness of desire, the insane dialogue of love and death in the limitless presumption of appetite. --Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization
- What happened between 1740 [The publication of Pamela] and 1840 [birth of Krafft-Ebing] to cause such a proliferation of sexual deviations? The answer is that human beings learned to use the imagination far more than in previous centuries. They learned to day-dream. --Colin Wilson quoted from The Misfits
- The essence of sadomasochism is not so much "pain" as the overwhelming of one's senses - emotionally more than physically. Active sexual masochism has little to do with pain and everything to do with the search for emotional pleasure. When we understand that it is pain only, and not cruelty, that is the essential in this group of manifestations, we begin to come nearer to their explanation. The masochist desires to experience pain, but he generally desires that it should be inflicted in love; the sadist desires to inflict pain, but he desires that it should be felt as love.... --Havelock Ellis
Sadism is the sexual or social pleasure or gratification in the infliction of pain and suffering upon another person. The word is derived from the name of the Marquis de Sade, a prolific French philosopher-writer of sadistic novels, plays, and a unique philosophical discourse that championed the infliction and reception of extreme pain as an art form that to him was both sublime and beautiful. The counterpart of sadism is masochism, the sexual pleasure or gratification of having pain or suffering inflicted upon the self, often consisting of sexual fantasies or urges for being beaten, humiliated, bound, tortured, or otherwise made to suffer, either as an enhancement to or a substitute for sexual pleasure. The name is derived from the name of the 19th century author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, known for his novel Venus in Furs that dealt with highly masochistic themes.
Sadism and masochism, often interrelated (one person obtaining sadistic pleasure by inflicting pain or suffering on another person who thereby obtains masochistic pleasure), are collectively known as S&M or sadomasochism.
The words are now commonly used to describe personality traits in an emotional, rather than sexual sense. Although it is quite different from the original meaning, this usage is not entirely inaccurate. There is quite frequently a strong emotional aspect to the sexual desires, taking the form of a need for domination or submission—the desire to control another, or to be controlled, as opposed to a simple desire for pain (which is technically known as algolagnia).