The main difference between sadism and masochism is that sadism often involves imposing pain. This can be physical pain, such as hitting someone else, or psychological distress, such as humiliation. Sadists can give hardcore demands with the punishment for disobedience involving an assortment of BDSM tools. Sadism in the bedroom might include rough sex, takedowns (as in primal play), choking (breathe play), spanking, and much more.
Both terms were coined by German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his 1886 compilation of case studies Psychopathia Sexualis. Pain and physical violence are not essential in Krafft-Ebing’s conception, and he defined masochism (German “Masochismus”) entirely in terms of control. Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst and a contemporary of Krafft-Ebing, noted that both were often found in the same individuals, and combined the two into a single dichotomous entity known as sadomasochism (German “Sadomasochismus”)(often abbreviated as S&M or S/M). This observation is commonly verified in both literature and practice; many sadists and masochists define themselves as “switchable”—capable of taking pleasure in either role. However it has also been argued (Deleuze, Coldness and Cruelty) that the concurrence of sadism and masochism in Freud’s model should not be taken for granted.
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Treatment for Sadism and Masochism
Treatment of sexual sadism or sexual masochism may be complicated by health problems related to promiscuous sexual behavior. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other medical problems may be present.
Note: Acts of sexual sadism or sexual masochism tend to grow more violent or bizarre over time. However, as persons with either disorder grow older, their ability or desire to participate in such behaviors begins to decrease. For example, sexual sadism is rarely diagnosed in men over 50 years of age.
1. Replace Violent Behaviors
Sadistic behaviors range in terms of their violent nature. Some sadistic behaviors are focused on humiliation and mild pain, while others are aimed toward severe pain. Also, a practicing sadist will either find a willing partner to participate in these behaviors, or will find a sexual victim. They need replace violent behaviors with caring, less violent behaviors.
2. Focus on Healthy Sexuality
Identifying and focusing on sexual practices that are gratifying and that do not incorporate sadistic or masochistic behaviors will help one to participate in normal sexual behavior. Encouraging and expanding normal sexual practices is a way to use the strengths and assets and tendencies toward normal sexual practices that a person already has.
3. Make a Commitment to Change
Even if a person is fantasizing about sadism or masochism, one can make a conscious commitment to not outwardly participate in such behaviors. Being tempted to do something is not doing it. One method for encouraging this is by helping one see that people are innately valuable and should be treated with respect and even care. This understanding of another person’s value is to supersede any desire to practice violent or humiliating acts against them.