A clinical observation suggests a hypothesis that differs from classical analytic oedipal theory as to the origin and psychodynamics of a type of male sexual masochism. This type of masochism may occur when a painful childhood life experience regarding severely forbidden sexual pleasure is associated and amalgamated with shame, humiliation, and feared physical and psychological punishment resulting in sexual pleasure. If this takes place with sufficient frequency during the critical phases of childhood sexual development, possibly including early adolescent sexual development, it becomes recorded as long-term memory in brain neural networks. The phenomenon of its recording includes, at least in part, the commonly accepted theory of Donald Hebb. In later years, the man feels compelled to reproduce in a masochistic ritual the former childhood psychological and physical conditions, to bring about the most intense sexual pleasure. Humiliation, shame, discomfort, helplessness, and even possible pain are simulated or actually instigated. By voluntarily placing himself in charge of the type of sadistic treatment he receives in acts of masochism, a patient may unconsciously place himself in charge of his plight, in an attempt to master it, in contrast to his childhood helpless state. This formulation does not require an Oedipal explanation.
Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Dynamic Psychiatry – Guilford Press
Published: Jun 1, 2005