Psychology of sadism and masochism

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Most ordinary people live in two categories – “normal” and “abnormal”. The norm is the compliance with a certain generally accepted canon, the average value, which corresponds to the behavior, psyche and physiology of most people. So, for example, it is considered the norm that a woman should get married and have a child, but if a representative of the weaker sex wants to live alone and build a career instead of raising children, this is beyond the norm. Such behavior, in 99% of cases, is perceived “with hostility”, is considered a deviation and falls into the category of “abnormal”.

The concept of sadism and masochism as models of human behavior

Psychiatrists look at this issue much more broadly, therefore, they perceive each deviation from the basic model as a new scheme of human behavior, built on the basis of his personal habits, tastes, upbringing, absorbed parental experience, as well as genetics, which plays the role of basis and cement. fastening all of the above parameters. In the same perspective, two types of human character are considered – sadism and masochism, and, interestingly, in ordinary and sexual life, these roles may not coincide.

Let’s consider them in more detail.

Sadism and masochism as character tapas

Sadism (the term comes from the name of the Marquis de Sade) is behavior with a pronounced tendency to violence against other people. Simply put, a sadist gets moral and psychological satisfaction from the fact that he mocks others. Not only is this the classic picture of sexual domination that occurs with this phrase, sexual release is not a primary concern. The sadist likes the feeling of power that he gains over the emotions and soul of his partner, from this he gets moral and psychological pleasure.

Masochism – (named after the writer Leopold Sacher) is a quality that makes a person receive moral, psychological and sexual satisfaction from being humiliated. Simply put, the masochist needs pain and only when experiencing physical or psychological pain.

Features of relationships

As already mentioned, the manifestation of sadomasochism in sex is secondary, relationships are formed at the level of the psyche. Many couples play role-playing games, in which, according to a mutual scenario, the role of master is played by one or the other partner, but neither man nor woman are sadists or masochists in real life.

On the contrary, the second scenario is more often embodied in life, when one partner is inherently a sadist, and the other is a masochist, but at the same time, they are unaware of it. The most striking example is domestic violence, in which a man is a classic sadist and his wife is a masochist, accepting such behavior and even enjoying endless suffering. But, if they are informed about this, they will categorically refuse this interpretation, since they subconsciously perceive sadism and masochism as a perversion in sex.

Also, the classic masochists are family members in which an alcoholic or a drug addict lives. The wife, and as a rule it is the woman who suffers, is not just a masochist, but a codependent. No matter how she tries to break the vicious circle, such a woman gets real emotional satisfaction from the fact that she is trying to “save” her partner, and also endures the hardships and difficulties associated with life with him. This blind attachment manifests her meaning in life and her happiness, so if the addicted person recovers, the codependent family member suffers from it.


So, sadism and masochism are not deviations from the norm in a sexual sense, as many believe, these are human behavior patterns that manifest themselves depending on a number of factors. If people function normally with such a relationship, this is great, their partnership is filled with meaning, and the union becomes especially strong and strong. If there is only a sadist in a couple, the second partner may become unwillingly masochist, but from this process he will not experience either moral or physical satisfaction. It will be a painful relationship that is best to end right away.

Category: Online counseling, Online therapy, Psychotherapy


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I’ve hurt myself while trying to help myself more than you can imagine, that’s why I want to scientifically analyze every popular self-help technique and ‘method’ there is.