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Ghent, E. (1990). Masochism, Submission, Surrender—Masochism as a Perversion of Surrender. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:108-136.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:108-136

Masochism, Submission, Surrender—Masochism as a Perversion of Surrender

Emmanuel Ghent, M.D.

SURRENDER, IN STRIKING CONTRAST TO masochism, is a word that is seldom encountered in the psychoanalytic literature, and even then it often bears an ambiguous meaning. My goal in this paper is to give the term a certain clarity of definition and to study its relation to submission and masochism, which I regard as antitheses to surrender. In order to span the full compass of the meaning I give to surrender, my plan is to broaden the scope implied by the title and touch on some other issues that are related to surrender: object usage (Winnicott, 1969) and its perversion in the form of sadism, creativity, and the apperception of threatening meaning.

Let me say at the outset that by masochism I mean all that is customarily intended by the term including both its sexual and characterological meanings. By perversion I mean something akin to distortion, corruption, diversion, misconstruction. The meaning I will give to the term "surrender" has nothing to do with hoisting a white flag; in fact, rather than carrying a connotation of defeat, the term will convey a quality of liberation and expansion of the self as a corollary to the letting down of defensive barriers. I hope the meaning of surrender, in its most inclusive sense, will gradually reveal itself as we encounter it in a variety of contexts. Nor am I convinced that "surrender" is the right word for what I would like to convey. Alternative words will crop up from time to time and perhaps help give form to the conception.

The

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