The Agony and the Ecstasy
A Review of Sexual Masochism
Masochism, a sexual disorder in which sexual arousal is derived from subjection to physical and emotional degradation. A type of paraphilia ,masochism is explained in psychoanalysis as a destructive attitude in which the individual turns inward upon himself instead of outward upon others. The Masochist exists to test his/her limits, to see how much pain (s) he can tolerate before (s)he collapses. She/He gains satisfaction in humiliation, suffering, denial and even physical pain. The Masochist defines who (s)he is by his capacity to feel discomfort - he rises each night only to greet a new pain. Sexual Masochism involves the act of being humiliated, bound, beaten and otherwise made to physically suffer for purposes of sexual stimulation. While the fantasy of such things is not unusual, it is the acting upon these fantasies that can run the risk of true peril.
The diagnostic criteria for sexual Masochism is as follows:
A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer.
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).
The late 19th century psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his Psychopathia
Agony and Ecstasy 2
Sexualis of 1885, wrote that masochism was a sexual anomaly in which an individual "is controlled by the idea of being completely and unconditionally subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex; of being treated by this person as by a master, humiliated and abused. This idea is colored by lustful feeling; the masochist lives in fantasies, in which he creates situations...