Sadomasochism  

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"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 in The Misfits


"The masochist desires to experience pain, but he generally desires that it should be inflicted in love; the sadist desires to inflict pain, but in some cases, if not in most, he desires that it should be felt as love." --Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 3 , Havelock Ellis


"Sadomasochism is a sacred cult, a pagan religion that reveals the dark secrets of nature. The bondage of sadomasochism expresses our own bondage by the body, our subservience to its brute laws, concealed by our myths of romantic love ." --Camille Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture

Image:Jupiter and Thetis.jpg
Jupiter and Thetis (1811) by Ingres, Thetis is depicted in the painting by Ingres as pleading at the knees of Zeus: "She sank to the ground beside him, put her left arm round his knees, raised her right hand to touch his chin, and so made her petition to the Royal Son of Cronos" (Iliad, I).

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sadomasochism (a compound of sadism and masochism), a subset of BDSM, is the giving or receiving of pleasure from acts involving the receipt or infliction of pain or humiliation. Practitioners of sadomasochism may seek sexual gratification from their acts. While the terms sadist and masochist refer respectively to one who enjoys giving or receiving pain, practitioners of sadomasochism may switch between activity and passivity.

The abbreviation S&M is often used for sadomasochism, although practitioners themselves normally remove the ampersand and use the acronym SM or S/M. Sadomasochism is not considered a clinical paraphilia unless such practices lead to clinically significant distress or impairment for a diagnosis. Similarly, sexual sadism within the context of mutual consent should not be mistaken for acts of sexual violence or aggression.

Definition and etymology

The term "Sadomasochism" is used in a variety of different ways. It can refer to cruel individuals or those who brought misfortunes onto themselves and psychiatrists define it as pathological. However, recent research suggests that it is simply a sexual interest, and not a pathological symptom of past abuse, or a sexual problem, and that people with sadomasochistic sexual interest are neither damaged nor dangerous.

The two words incorporated into this compound, "sadism" and "masochism," were originally derived from the names of two authors. The term “Sadism” has its origin in the name of the Marquis de Sade (1740 – 1814), who not only practiced sexual sadism, but also wrote novels about these practices, of which the best known is Justine. “Masochism” is named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote novels expressing his masochistic fantasies. These terms were first selected to identifying human behavioural phenomena and for the classification of psychological illnesses or deviant behaviour. The German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing introduced the terms "Sadism" and "Masochism"' into medical terminology in his work Neue Forschungen auf dem Gebiet der Psychopathia sexualis ("New research in the area of Psychopathology of Sex") in 1890.

In 1905, Sigmund Freud described sadism and masochism in his Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie ("Three papers on Sexual Theory") as stemming from aberrant psychological development from early childhood. He also laid the groundwork for the widely accepted medical perspective on the subject in the following decades. This led to the first compound usage of the terminology in Sado-Masochism (Loureiroian "Sado-Masochismus") by the Viennese Psychoanalyst Isidor Isaak Sadger in his work Über den sado-masochistischen Komplex ("Regarding the sadomasochistic complex") in 1913.

In the later 20th century, BDSM activists have protested against these ideas, because, they argue, they are based on the philosophies of the two psychiatrists, Freud and Krafft-Ebing, whose theories were built on the assumption of psychopathology and their observations of psychiatric patients. The DSM nomenclature referring to sexual psychopathology has been criticized as lacking scientific veracity, and advocates of sadomasochism have sought to separate themselves from psychiatric theory by the adoption of the term BDSM instead of the common psychological abbreviation, "S&M". However, the term BDSM also includes, B&D (bondage and discipline), D/s (dominance and submission), and S&M (sadism and masochism). The terms "bondage" and "discipline" usually refer to the use of either physical or psychological restraint or punishment, and sometimes involves sexual role playing, including the use of costumes.

In fiction

Sadism and masochism in fiction

Sadism and masochism in fiction goes as far back as the Medieval "power of women" legends. However, if we consider Michel Foucault's dictum "Sadism ... appeared precisely at the end of the eighteenth century," we should accept that Marquis de Sade (Justine, 1791) was the first author of sadism.

The first description of the masochist fantasy, notably lacking in Sade comes in Venus in Furs (1870) by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

In 1954 the Story of O by Pauline Réage gave voice to female masochism, followed closely by The Image (1956) by Catherine Robbe-Grillet.

In general, the contemporary depiction of sadism and masochism in fiction tends to be portrayed from the viewpoint of masochistic fantasy.

This was also the case in Fifty Shades of Grey (2011) by E. L. James, a best-selling trilogy of novels.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sadomasochism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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