Sadomasochism is the giving and receiving of pleasure from acts involving the receiving and giving of pain or humiliation. The two words, “sadism” and “masochism,” were initially derived in the 19th Century from the names of two authors. The term “sadism” has its origin in the name of the Marquis de Sade, the French writer who practiced giving pain and wrote novels about it. “Masochism” is named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the Austrian writer who wrote novels expressing his fantasies in receiving pain.
The “sadism” and “masochism” were introduced to the medical terminology as illnesses in 1890, by the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his book “New research in the area of Psychopathology of Sex.” In the 20th Century, many psychologists, psychiatrists, and philosophers wrote about sadism and masochism. Among them were Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Paul Sartre, and René Girard. According to these scientists, there are many reasons why sadists and masochists find their practice enjoyable, and they all depend on individuals. This might not be true enough.
Jean-Paul Sartre argued that masochism is an attempt to reduce oneself to nothing, while sadism is the effort to conquer the subjectivity of the victim. Sigmund Freud described sadism and masochism as abnormal psychological development from early childhood. He noted that both were often found in the same individuals, and combined the two into a single dichotomous entity known as “sadomasochism.” Scientists gave different interpretations of sadism and masochism. Still, they agreed that sadists and masochists joined together encounter pleasure in giving and receiving pain as a form of sexual satisfaction. However, they failed to define the origin of sadomasochism and then, of course, they were not able to find the prevention, neither the cure for it.
The recent researchers have found an easy way out from the problem by suggesting that sadomasochism is merely a sexual interest, and not a pathological symptom or a sexual problem and that people with sadomasochistic sexual interest are in general neither damaged nor dangerous. The current version of the American Psychiatric Association’s manual DSM-5 excludes consensual sadomasochism from the diagnosis of illnesses when sexual interests cause no harm or distress. On June 18, 2018, the World Health Organization removed sadomasochism from psychiatric diagnoses in the International Classification of Diseases – ICD 11.
The pathology of enjoyment in pain has become a normal state. It has happened nowhere in nature but in human society. So why do we accept abnormal behaviour as normal? Because we live in an abnormal society.
My research on sadomasochism is based on the analysis of available data. The result is presented here and defines the origin of sadomasochism, as well as its prevention and cure. It was not a difficult task for me because the same medicine cures each and every social and psychological problem of society. I’ve worked on solving it for a long time.
The origin of sadism and masochism are embedded in social relations. They are the results of tension coming from living in an authoritarian society that prevents people from a natural way of living. When children like to play out but cannot because they are forced to spend a long time in schools, this is the starting point of sadomasochism. When adults want to enjoy their lives but cannot because they have to obey to the rules authorities have created, this is the starting point of sadomasochism as well.
A normal, natural reaction to the oppression of authorities is resistance. Those who resist the authorities and manage to release themselves from authoritarian tyranny would most likely have relaxed, productive lives free of tension. They would neither try to oppress anybody nor let themselves be oppressed. This is the best possible way of living and the best choice for society.
However, authorities may have been too strong, feared, or respected so that people were never able to escape from their oppression completely. Therefore, we all possess some tension coming from the abuse of authorities and therefore carry some level of sadomasochism. People who value strength try to suppress the anxiety by intensifying control of themselves, but it worsens the problem because self-discipline increases the tension. This explains why well raised, strongly disciplined, better-educated, and more successful people, are more prone to become sadists and masochists.
Under the influences of authorities, sadists oppress masochists who enjoy being obedient to them. Sadists find enjoyment in domination over masochists and masochists find pleasure in submission to sadists. They build a strong mutual dependency, which might look like being in love. However, every relationship based on the control of authority and the servility of subordinate people always represents some level of a sadomasochistic relationship. It should be labelled as a perversion of love.
People cannot endure the tension of living in an authoritarian society endlessly so that their bodies find an escape from the anxiety in the perversion of emotions and senses. The perversion of emotions and feelings is the origin that actually produces sadism and masochism. The strong tension of sadists perverts their emotions strongly, and then they enjoy giving pain to other people and become strong sadists. Lower level sadists would be satisfied by watching fights in brutal movies, for example. Ordinary people do not enjoy any of it.
Masochists enjoy being obedient to sadists. Scientists offer a spectrum of explanations about the masochist’s need to submit to the power of controlling authorities. According to them, authorities give masochists safety and protection from the stresses, from helplessness, from fear of life responsibilities, or from guilt. According to me, the permanent tension under anxiety, discomfort, and fear perverse masochists’ emotions, so that they find enjoyment in obedience to sadists. But it explains the origin of the emotional perversion only. It does not explain the pleasure of pain.
Masochist must enjoy the pain they receive from sadists a lot; otherwise, they would not accept it. Masochists enjoy the pain much more intensively than sadists who deliver the pain can. Scientists have problems to understand what causes the enjoyment of pain. They understand the chemical process in the body, which creates pleasure in pain, but they do not know why it happens.
My analysis has given a pretty convincing conclusion about the origin of pain enjoyment. Permanent tension in masochists beside emotions perverts their sensations as well. High-level anxiety perverts the nerves of masochists. The nerves start producing pleasure from the sense of pain. At this moment, this is the best explanation available for masochistic attraction to pain.
All people possess some degree of masochism. A low level of masochism would not make people enjoy pain, but it may bring emotional satisfaction in obedience to authority. They would follow the authorities uncritically and enjoy it. For example, it makes people fans of politicians or celebrities. Almost no one is immune to it. Idolatry always puts people on the wrong path, which is one more origin of the masochistic tension, and it increases the possibility of pain enjoyment.
A large number of people do not know they may enjoy pain in sexual contact because they have never tried it. Those who encounter pain in the sexual relationship and get released from the tension, enjoy it. Then the pain becomes their need. The more tension they suppress, the more pain they enjoy, the bigger masochist they are. Big masochists may enjoy extreme pain similarly to orgasm. Nothing can bring more intense enjoyment than this. This is why masochists love pain.
People who escape authoritative pressure, who live normally and do not build tension in themselves, are generally relaxed and cannot enjoy giving or receiving pain. Sadism and masochism come as the result of a very unhealthy way of living. Sadists cannot love, and masochists cannot be interested in people who offer love. If a sadist shows weakness towards a masochist, he or she will lose interest in the sadist instantly. In this case, a masochist can even despise the sadist. In the movie “Last Tango in Paris,” the masochist killed the sadist when he showed weakness. The screenplay writer and director understood sadomasochism correctly and presented it realistically. However, sadomasochism could look much worse than the movie presented. Neither sadism nor masochism let people live normally. They are diseases.
Now when the origin of sadomasochism is understood, what would be the prevention for it? The answer lies in everything opposite from the authoritarian system in which we live. We need freedom. Freedom will let people to sense their natural needs and to live following their nature. We have to stop everyone from preventing the natural way of living, and especially from hurting anybody. It will enable the best life possible.
The best result will be achieved through the implementation of equal human rights. These rights will establish equal opportunities and power to all people. When people become equal, nobody would be able to expose power over others. This will prevent the existence of authorities and their oppression on the people. This will eliminate the unpleasant life and fear which authorities produce. That will make people get rid of both sadism and masochism.
The essential step in building equal human rights will be creating a system of equal rights evaluation among people. It will make a radical transformation of powers in capitalism, which will completely change the world. I’ve called it democratic anarchy. Each person will have an equal right to evaluate a few people of their choice. A positive assessment will bring small awards to the assessed person, and a negative evaluation will carry small punishments. Such assessments will force every person to respect other people, to do everything they can to beautify the lives of other people and do nothing that can hurt other people. This will create a good society where sadism and masochism may hardly exist.
Equal human rights will give each person the right to work. As long as unemployment exists, such a right does not exist. Unemployment will be eliminated by shortening working hours proportionally to the rate of unemployment. This would increase the demand for workers on the free market so that employers would have to pay them more. Better paid workers will be able to purchase more, which will grow the economy. This will remove the problems of capitalism, but also it would give people employment security. This will release people from the fear of living in a capitalist society and give them more choices to find a pleasant job. It will certainly additionally diminish sadomasochist tensions in people. These two simple measures will also make capitalism a decent social system.
The ultimate stage of equal human rights will create an equal possibility for the employment of all people at every public work post at any time. It will be necessary to open a permanent competition of workers for every public work post. The best productivity offer of workers would get the right to work at any time. It sounds impossible to achieve because such a division of labour never existed. But the realization of it is just a technical problem. I have developed a system that will effectively evaluate the productivity of work offers, harmonize rewards for work, and define the job responsibilities of workers. This is a complex task that is explained in my book Humanism. The implementation will bring two great results, the best economy possible and fully equal human rights. In such a society, sadism and masochism cannot exist.
My definition of equal human rights is based on 37 years of my work. They are far beyond the poor reality we live in today. The equal human rights are the only condition and only solution for building a good society. But scientists do not accept me. They want me to prove my work through scientific references or by social practice. The problem is nobody has ever worked on this kind of rights beside me, and that means scientific references that may support my work do not exist. Insisting on references of previous scientists prevents entirely new ideas from coming and the progress of society. Also, I cannot test equal human rights on my own. That is the reason my work has difficulties in getting support for building the bright future of humankind.
My work will one day completely change this world and make it a beautiful place to live, but the sciences and media ignore it. This cannot be anything else but a conspiracy of the rich who secure their privileges and power over society by preventing new ideas from coming. Social sciences were always created under a strong influence of authorities. Authorities have always blocked truth and social ideas, which may replace their power. They support ideas that cannot improve society. This is the reason why sadomasochism has become normal sexual behaviour today. Conspiracies have existed from ever. The influential people today even prevent a term conspiracy from being used seriously. In today’s society, a conspiracy theory means that people use their imagination to spread false accusations. This information is essential for understanding why immorality and perversion, and then sadomasochism, cannot be eliminated.
In the end, I owe the answer on how to cure sadomasochism. The human psyche is not a dough that can be easily modified. A perversion needs time to occur in a sick society, and time will be required to eliminate perversions through a healthy society once it is established. Equal human rights will do it along with solving all social problems of humankind.
My article Do you love? presents the power of equal human rights in spreading love among people. Nobody will be able to “escape” from loving other people. Equal human rights will bring a wonderful life to all, but I have difficulties in presenting it to people.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.