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Salvage, D. (2006). The Sadomasochistic Perversion: The Entity and the Theories, by Franco De Masi, Karnac Press, London, 2003, pp. 162, price not indicated.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 34(3):559-561.

(2006). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 34(3):559-561

The Sadomasochistic Perversion: The Entity and the Theories, by Franco De Masi, Karnac Press, London, 2003, pp. 162, price not indicated.

Review by:
David Salvage, M.D.

This book is an ambitious attempt to synthesize the many different theories which have arisen concerning the nature of perversions from Freud onwards. De Masi offers a broad overview of the nature and definitions of perversion, and a compelling writing style which reflects a passion to understand the nature of his quest.

Initially upon reading the book I was somewhat struck by the author's attempt to embrace a wide scope of different strands of theoretical formulations somewhat disappointing because it seemed that it was at the expense of a rigorous and detailed scholarship that allowed for the exploration of any given individual theorist—be it Klein, Freud, or a comprehensive list of dynamic and interpersonal theorists in great depth.

De Masi contends that the notion of sin is “central to the perverse act because it stresses the subjective perception of the transgressive action out of which the pleasure arises” (De Masi, p. 16). However, limited in this concept is the evolution of the concept of perversion in Freudian thought. To be sure, in The Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Freud is quite consistent with the idea of all human sexuality as involving perverse sadomasochistic aspects arising out of incestuous guilt fantasies. But de Grassi does an injustice to the subject matter by neglecting Freud's later theories of fetishism (closer to the paraphilias) in which perversions and the primary mechanisms of genital disavowal become a more comprehensive way of understanding the scope of the defensive dynamics underlying the perversions. It is my belief that in the scope of the subject, sado-masochism is understood in a greater level of complexity if the later model of perversion which Freud was wrestling with in the last years of his life is applied to the earlier concepts of sado-masochism arising out of guilt.

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