How is masochism cured

Masochism - please whip it once! (Podcast 120)

Says the masochist to the sadist: "Torment me!" Says the sadist: "No!". What can make you smile as a joke here is torture for the real masochist. He is only satisfied when he is tortured. Masochism is a taboo subject. Who likes to talk about it when they are attracted to unusual sexual varieties? Even the one whose name comes from the term "masochism" did not do so. But he wrote about it. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's books deal a lot with masochism. He contributed significantly to the fact that the term "masochism" became the catchphrase for this sexual tendency after his death on March 9, 1895. Sacher-Masoch and masochism. That's the story.

In Sacher-Masoch's books, men love the whip. Especially when women swing them, give them a decent blow, throw wickedness at their heads in a sonorous tobacco and alcohol-soaked voice and place their foot on their bodies with confidence. That makes men mad, greedy, wild. That is masochism. Sacher-Masoch did not invent and coined the term himself, his novella "Venus in Pelz" provided the impetus for it. It is about gaining pleasure through submission and whipping. A man literally hungers for the cruelty of the woman who pushes him to his physical limits. His name is Severin, she is Wanda.

Ever since Severin met Wanda in a Carpathian bath, he has been fascinated by her beauty, which reminds him of the goddess Venus. He wants to marry her, she refuses, suggests a one-year probationary period. He keeps begging, asking her to be his mistress. She finally agrees.

Between etiquette and dog

Outwardly, Severin is inconspicuous. "For a Galician nobleman and landowner as well as for his age - he was barely over thirty - he showed a striking sobriety of character, a certain seriousness, even pedantry," says the novella. "He lived ... according to the clock, ... according to the thermometer, barometer, aerometer, hydrometer, Hippocrates, Hufeland, Plato, Kant, Knigge and Lord Chesterfield".

What is initially invisible in Severin is made visible by a painting that hangs in his house: "A beautiful woman ... rested ... naked in a dark fur on an ottoman; her right hand played with a whip, while her bare foot slouched leaned on the man who lay before her like a slave, like a dog ".

The German-Austrian psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing relied on this novella when he introduced the term "masochism" into psychology. He later learned that Sacher-Masoch's life also matched the term. He once wrote: "Incidentally, in recent years I have been taught evidence that Sacher-Masoch was not only the poet of masochism, but was also afflicted with the anomaly in question."


A small, submissive worm

Sacher-Masoch's life was partly reflected in the books he wrote. Like Severin in "Venus in Pelz", Sacher-Masoch appeared neat on the outside. He was an intellectual, had studied law, history and mathematics in Graz, became a doctor and professor before turning entirely to literature. In secret, Sacher-Masoch was the small, submissive worm.

From 1861 to 1865 he lived in a masochistic relationship with Anna von Kottwitz, which he processed literarily in "The Divorced Woman". This was followed by a six-month submission contract with Fanny von Pistor. Wanda from "Venus in Furs" was his third wife, Aurora RĂ¼melin, with whom he lived out his fantasies from 1873 onwards.

Sacher-Masoch was not at all right about his name being used for the term "masochism". He resisted, he did not want to be reduced to this part of his works. Vain. Looking back, the social scientist Erwin Haeberle wrote: "Von Sacher-Masoch was outraged to see his personal erotic preferences converted into a diagnostic category. Medicine had thus robbed him, a respected writer, of his greatest good - his individuality. Now he was only a type and his name had become a scientifically disguised swear word for thousands. "

Krafft-Ebing had said otherwise: "As a person, Sader-Masoch certainly does not lose anything in the eyes of any educated person through the fact that he was innocently afflicted with an anomaly in his sexual feelings."


Masochism - an explosive mixture

Krafft-Ebing described masochism in his book "Psychopathia sexualis" in connection with sadism: "While those suffer pain and want to feel subject to violence, the latter aims to inflict pain and to exercise violence."

Psychology explains erotic masochism as a mixture of sadism, erotic, life-sustaining and destructive drives. The masochistic man wants to atone in advance for his disordered urges, which he unconsciously frowned upon. That's why he lets himself be whipped, for example. The feeling of guilt calls for punishment. And the masochist accepts suffering to get rid of guilt. The woman is at most to blame because she forced him to commit the abnormal sexual act and demoted him to her slave.


When the mother has her pants on

Psychoanalysis seeks the cause of masochism, like that of many other neuroses, in childhood. The image of a family would be classic, in which love and appreciation go hand in hand with strong pressure, the mother is wearing her pants and the father is passive. If the dominance of the mother is very pronounced, the child may be plagued by feelings of guilt as soon as it rebels and wants to go its own way. Tantrums are taboo and must be suppressed. The child feels humiliated and sometimes reacts with vomiting, defiance, or defiance. If the child does become masochistic later, it is not uncommon for him to be fearful of going out of himself and expressing his feelings, usually anger. He was never allowed to express it.

There are also a few other attempts to explain masochism. While the American psychoanalyst and feminist Jessica Benjamin writes in her book "The Shackles of Love" that masochism is "an effort to be recognized by another", Professor Roy Baumeister of Florida State University tries a different approach. For him, masochism is an attempt to escape from oneself, just as some resort to alcohol or a religion.


Therapy: expressing negative feelings

In order to get free from masochistic tendencies, some psychoanalysts teach, the patient must learn to express his negative feelings. The ways to healing can be very different. However, those affected cannot avoid psychotherapy. The aim of therapy is a positive basic attitude towards oneself and towards life. The goal is to become happy even without these disordered tendencies. Maybe Sacher-Masoch's therapy was writing.

Dorothea Schmidt, Wissen.de editorial team