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Feldman, S.S. (1956). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XVIII, 1954: Outline of a Psychodynamic Theory of Masochism. B. Grunberger. Pp. 193-214.. Psychoanal Q., 25:128-129.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XVIII, 1954: Outline of a Psychodynamic Theory of Masochism. B. Grunberger. Pp. 193-214.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:128-129

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XVIII, 1954: Outline of a Psychodynamic Theory of Masochism. B. Grunberger. Pp. 193-214.

Sandor S. Feldman

The paper surveys masochism in all its forms from sexual perversion to psychosomatic illness; 'it seems to be consubstantial with human nature'. The greatest

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enigma in masochism is the paradoxical combination of pain and pleasure. Unlike other psychoanalysts, who focus their attention on the pursuit of pain in masochism, the author chooses for his point of departure the element of pleasure in masochism. Inhibition before pleasure, pregenital or genital, characterizes masochism. Essentially the masochist wants and pursues pleasure like everyone else, but the presence of the loved object creates anxiety in him and to eliminate this anxiety he negates pleasure. Many authors suppose that the anxiety is castration anxiety, but Grunberger finds that in the masochist the castration anxiety is ostentatious and false; it is a defense. Nor can re-experiencing of oral frustration be the unconscious background of masochism. Freud firmly believed that only by study of sadism can one understand masochism, and to Grunberger aggressiveness appears to be the most important clue to this baffling problem.

The masochist uses castration fear and oral conflict to mask the guilt he feels for his aggressiveness; his wish is to castrate father. Clinical observation demonstrates that 'in all cases of masochism, no matter of what kind, we are concerned with castration of the father which is an indispensable condition for instinctual gratification—and this in both sexes'. To conceal this aggressive wish, male and female masochists make a show of castration fear and oral conflicts. The castration of the father is accomplished by 'the introjection of the father's penis on an anal-sadistic level'. This introjection precedes the Oedipus complex. In the preoedipal period it means in both sexes the sadistic destruction of the father's genital; in the Oedipal period it means the killing of the father.

There is a strong defense against the wish to possess the father's penis. To establish this defense the ego must fool the superego, and this appears in analysis in two ways: 1, 'I do not want to castrate father. Besides I cannot since I am myself castrated (it is my mother who castrates me).' 2, 'If I am in conflict, it is with my mother (and not with my father; the conflict is an oral one).'

Because the masochist needs to deny his guilt for wanting to castrate father, he must project his aggressiveness and make it appear that it is the other who castrates him, that the other is aggressive and not he. It is not that he turns his aggressiveness against himself, but that he projects his aggression on the other. Or he puts the blame on the 'wicked mother': 'it is she who castrates father and not I'. It appears then that the masochist is in conflict with mother. 'The moral masochist pursues his goal, which is the castration of father on a level of anal-sadistic introjection, but constantly demonstrates his failure. As for the pervert masochist, he succeeds—thanks to masochistic camouflage—in fooling his superego completely and deliberately, thus achieving genital pleasure.' Grunberger's profound paper considers most of the familiar analytical propositions on this subject and is enriched with many references.

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Article Citation

Feldman, S.S. (1956). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XVIII, 1954. Psychoanal. Q., 25:128-129

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