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Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1991). Sadomasochism in the Perversions: Some Thoughts on the Destruction of Reality. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:399-415.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:399-415

Sadomasochism in the Perversions: Some Thoughts on the Destruction of Reality

Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel


The author summarizes and develops some of her viewpoints on the perversions (outlined in several of the books and articles she has written). For her all the perversions, whatever their content, develop against an anal sadomasochistic backdrop. Their aim is to destroy reality. Reality, from a psychosexual perspective, may be defined as resulting from the existence of the father separating the mother and the child. This may be formulated in another way: reality is recognition of sexual and generational differences. Or, yet again: mother and father have a procreative sexuality, whereas the child does not. This leads to the idea that the destruction of reality is equivalent to destruction of the paternal universe. Clinical case illustrations are provided, one of which centers on the assassination of an old man who, besides representing a paternal oedipal image, also represents reality itself. This case illustrates in concrete form the murder of the father, and hence of reality, accomplished by the pervert when he eradicates the paternal dimension of psychosexuality by regressing to the anal sadomasochistic dimension.

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