There are 2 definitions of a masochist in the dictionary.
- a sexual perversion characterized by pleasure in being subjected to pain or humiliation especially by a love object — compare this to sadism
- pleasure in being abused or dominated : a taste for suffering
The first definition, might not even apply to you (but it might, wink, wink). The “50 Shades of Grey” novels showed the world that women have this hidden desire on some level. And it’s the connection we make when we think of Masochistic tendencies. First introduced by the 19th century novelist Sacher-Masoch , where in his novels he described men who gained sexual pleasure from domineering women.
Discussion must have been exciting back then, because Freud wasn’t sure about the definition relating just to sexual tendencies or with men at all. He believed that Masochism was something only women could experience. And he broke it down into 3 categories.
By erotogenic masochism, Freud meant a biological and constitutional lust for pain. It is the basis of the remaining two types of masochism. 1
Feminine masochism refers to normal female psychological development of which suffering is the consequence of the pain associated with childbirth, menstruation, and defloration (sex).1 They actually thought women experienced pain when having sex!
In moral masochism, suffering lost its connection with sexuality. What became important was the suffering itself. According to Freud, masochistic character formation results from an unconscious sense of guilt and responsibility for the parents happiness.1
Hmmm. Guilt? Interesting.
This idea of being a masochist, was somewhat of a revelation to me during a therapy session years ago. As I recalled my relationship with my then husband, my therapist blurted out that I was a masochist.
Ok, hold on now.
I have been known to dabble in the first definition from time to time, but in my marriage? What? Wait a minute. It made so much sense.
I was the “nurturer”. I took care of almost everything in our lives; the kids, the bills, the repairs… without asking for help. And I was treated like a doormat. I’m not sure that I enjoyed being treated that way. Hence the divorce. But it made sense when I recalled my dynamic with my parents.
If this is sounding a bit familiar, but you’re still not sure it applies to you, hang in there.
You too might be unconscious to the fact. You might have had a mother who did it all or a father who just did whatever your mother told him to. #metoo.
Here’s the test. You are a masochist if you have at least 6 of the following:
- Remains in relationship in which others exploit, abuse or take advantage of him or her, despite opportunities to alter the situation.
- Believes that he or she almost always sacrifices own interests for those of others.
- Rejects help, gifts, or favors so as not to be a burden on others.
- Complains, directly or indirectly, about being unappreciated.
- Responds to success or positive events by feeling undeserving or worrying about not being able to measure up to new responsibilities.
- Always pessimistic about the future and preoccupied with the worst aspects of the past and present.
- Thinks only about his or her worst features and ignores positive features.
- Sabotages his or her own intended goals.
- Repeatedly turns down opportunities for pleasure.
I got 6! How about you?
Don’t worry, my therapist said that the remedy for Masochistic Personal Disorder is Self-Care!
If you’re not sure what self-care is all about (because you’re a masochist ;)) then join me for 5 Days of Self Love. Click here to join in.
Let’s shake off our masochistic tendencies together.