Masochist: Concept, Origin of the Term and Practices

We explain what a masochist is and what this practice consists of. Also, how masochism is considered in the culture.

A masochist finds pleasure in physical or emotional pain.
  1. What is a masochist?

A masochist is a person who practices masochism, that is, the practice of inflicting pain at will (physical or emotional) by one’s own hand or by the hand of others, obtaining from it pleasure or enjoyment of some kind, especially of a sexual nature. It can be used together with the term “Sado” (from sadistic), that is, sadomasochistic, when pleasure is also obtained from the inflicted pain and not only from the suffered.

The masochistic word comes from the surname of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895), Austrian writer whose novels, especially Skin venus (1870), generated scandal in the society of the time when representing characters addicted to physical pain and emotional suffering, humiliation or oppression, on the part of their female consorts. The first time this term was used with this meaning was in the essay Sexual psychopathy (1886) by the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing.

In general terms, masochistic people enjoy pain sexually or the domination to which others may subject them. Otherwise, your sexual experience is incomplete or unsatisfactory. This often involves situations of physical and / or emotional submission, such as restraints, physical abuse, gagging, immobilization, or simply aggressive sexual relations.

Therefore the ideal partner of a masochist usually be a person with sadistic tendencies, since one enjoys the pain received and the other the pain it causes. These types of couples or relationships are often called sado-maso or bondage, and in their encounters the use of sex toys such as chains, whips, ropes, candles, etc. is common.

The orgasm, finally, is usually given to the subject as a reward, after having endured the punishment. In some cases, the members of this type of sexual bond exchange their positions, which is known in sadomasochistic slang as switch.

Masochism in culture

Masochism has been around since ancient times, as seems to indicate the presence of representations of scenes of flagellations in the sexual sphere in Ancient Greece and in the Italian Etruscan period. Some of them seemed dedicated to specific gods (Artemis, for example). Often these representations went hand in hand with sadism, as is the case of the work of the Marquis de Sade, a French writer from whose name the term precisely comes.

The logic of masochism It has been widely studied by the various schools of psychoanalysis, which have come up with various explanations and possible treatments for it, but with the passage of time. society has become more tolerant towards this type of sexual paraphilias, disincorporating them from the compendium of psychological illnesses or disorders that merit urgent attention.

Masochistic encounters today are relatively accepted by public opinion. They tend to vary in intensity, sense, and specific narrative, often reproducing traumatic situations of childhood or adolescence, giving the subject subjected the opportunity to purge guilt, to give up control or simply to relive situations of oppression that were secretly pleasurable. However, each specific case obeys reasons and a particular logic. One of the best known masochists in history was Lawrence of Arabia, a famous English military man, adventurer, and archaeologist.