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Grand, H.G. (1973). The Masochistic Defence of the 'Double Mask': Its Relationship to Imposture. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:445-454.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:445-454

The Masochistic Defence of the 'Double Mask': Its Relationship to Imposture

Henry G. Grand


An individual with a masochistic character organization typically manifests dependent attitudes in proportion to the degree of masochism—the more masochistic, the more dependent he is. The consistent occurrence of serious dependency problems in association with masochism indicates that there has been a substantial disturbance in the motherchild relationship. Ordinarily, one expects a mother to help her child towards increasing self-sufficiency by means of praise, encouragement and approval, whenever she believes that her child is likely to master a situation; at the same time, she should furnish protection and aid when circumstances are beyond the child's capacity to act adequately on his own. The child's father should be expected to participate in fostering the development of mature attitudes and behaviour without interference from oedipal rivalry (in the case of a boy) or incestuous impulses (in the case of a girl). However, investigation of the childhood of the masochistic person generally reveals that his parents had been seriously limited in preparing their child for independent adult functioning and the full use of his innate potential. A common familial pattern is as follows. The child is involved with a mother possessing some or all of these traits: (1) detachment, (2) narcissism, (3) exploitativeness, (4) domination, (5) neurotic martyrdom with a penchant for complaining and criticizing. Such traits imply a pathological overconcern with oneself and a markedly curtailed capacity for awareness of a child's (or anyone's) feelings and needs.

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