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Traub-Werner, D. (1997). Essential Papers on Masochism: Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly. New York and London. New York University Press, 1995, 532 pp. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 5(1):160-164.

(1997). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 5(1):160-164

Essential Papers on Masochism: Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly. New York and London. New York University Press, 1995, 532 pp

Review by:
Daniel Traub-Werner

Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly includes papers that best describe the topic or best illustrate masochism She pays careful attention to the historical development of the concept and some of its contemporary conceptions and applications. The papers are grouped in six sections, each one representing a distinct aspect of the topic. The sections have thought-provoking introductions by the editor, which also serve as a guide to the seminal ideas of the authors In the introduction, Fitzpatrick Hanly writes,

Masochism is a psychoanalytic concept which has served as a vehicle to open up pathways of understanding into human lives where rituals of pain and sexual abusiveness prevail, and into unconscious fantasies constructed out of psychological pain, desperate need, and sexually excited, self-destruction

Masochism is ubiquitous in the human psyche and can become a powerful resistance to treatment. The assumption of pleasure in suffering and pain is, in the opinion of this reviewer, a misconception that results from the reductionism of concepts such as cathexis, libido, erotization, and the like.

Section one encompasses papers by Nacht, Lowenstein, and Smirnoff that serve as reference points and introduce the subject. Chapter 1 of S Nacht's Le Masochisme, written in 1938, emphasizes the classical development of the concept and introduces a connection between masochism and life instincts. This view, prevalent in North America, stands in distinct contrast to the prevalent view in French psychoanalytic literature where masochism is primarily connected to the death instinct.

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