In the DSM-III, nine years ago, the American Psychiatric Association decided to change the category of Masochism to Self-Defeating Personality, yet, because of the significance of the feeling-tone, the term "masochism" still appears appropriate, since it is so central to the pathology. Then, in 1994, for DSM-IV, it was decided to eliminate this category altogether-it has been declared passe! Perhaps because of the countertransference it evokes!
''But women's behavior that is often thought to be masochistic,'' she said, should instead be attributed to the following traits: the ability to delay gratification and wait for rewards through effort; the capacity to put other people's needs ahead of one's own; the belief, based on past experience, that one should have limited expectations, and the effort to avoid punishment, rejection or guilt.
Misogyny is also connected with masochism. Tolstoy argues that women exercise power over men by their sexual attractiveness. Men generally become victims of the femme fatale. Worthwhile is his assertion that even mothers behave like prostitutes.
The concept of masochistic development was proposed by Freud (1924) and developed further by several psychoanalysts. However, the studies have been primarily around development of pathological masochism, except the recent views of Simons (1987), Cooper (1988), and Sarnoff (1988). In this paper, a concept of normal masochistic development is presented.
You may think that sadism and masochism are equals. But among scholars they are not. As the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote in his work on masochism, ''Coldness and Cruelty,'' sadism has been widely studied by literary critics and psychoanalysts, but masochism ''has suffered from unfair neglect.''
But masochism is getting even, if the last Modern Language Association meeting is any indication.
One major dispute hinges on the role of gender. Masochism has been deemed both a uniquely male perversion and an innate female tendency (a disagreement that often turns on whether it is deemed a psychological or a specifically sexual condition). Hence a survey of the writing on female masochism turns up wildly diverging propositions: masochism is a natural urge in women; epitomizes women's oppression under patriarchy; is an empowering form of sexual experimentation; does not exist.
Masochism was first described in scientific detail in Richard von Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis (1886). In his study, Krafft- Ebing made explicit reference to Sacher-Masoch's writing and named the desire to gain sexual pleasure through suffering pain and subjugation after the Austro-Hungarian writer. Thus, the name Sacher-Masoch was forever linked to the sexual "perversion," masochism (Krafft- Ebing 131).
For instance, Fantina argues that masochism plays a central role in The Sun Also Rises, with Jake as the passive, wounded war veteran and Brett as the dominant woman. Fantina persuasively shows that the novel shares many similarities with Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, particularly in the way it continually humiliates the masochist by providing a rival for the woman's affection.
Sadism and masochism are, of course, named after famous practitioners -- the Marquis de Sade (1740-1824) and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1835-1895) -- who stand approximately one hundred years apart, but well within the Foucauldian dates of deployment. As with the psychiatric discovery of all peripheral sexualities, it cannot be claimed that sadism and masochism only exist from their neologistic birth date; yet it is possible to claim a distinction (similar to that of sodomite and homosexual) between sadistic or masochistic acts prior to the medicalisation of the term, and the proliferation of discourses surrounding such acts after the invention of the terms.
Masochism is a residue of unresolved infantile conflict and is neither essentially feminine nor a valuable component of mature female function and character. Though the female might be more predisposed to masochism, there is no evidence of particular female pleasure in pain. It is important to distinguish between masochistic suffering as a goal in itself, and tolerance for a discomfort or deprivation in the service of the ego or ego ideal.
In masochism, on the other hand, you invite others to insult you because, as a psychological defense against the pain of deep emotional wounds, you take unconscious pleasure in being demeaned in the secret hope that you will somehow, someday, earn someone’s admiration for your willingness to endure painful abuse.
Psychoanalysis has a long history of diagnosing masochism both as feminine and as misdirected homosexuality all the while trying to "cure" it. This attitude has been increasingly challenged in recent years. Carol Siegel writes of the tendency of psychoanalysis toward a "nonsensical conflation of male homosexuality with submissively expressed male heterosexuality and its touting of female masochism as essential femininity" (16).