Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To sort articles by year…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

After you perform a search, you can sort the articles by Year. This will rearrange the results of your search chronologically, displaying the earliest published articles first. This feature is useful to trace the development of a specific psychoanalytic concept through time.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Berliner, B. (1958). The Role of Object Relations in Moral Masochism. Psychoanal Q., 27:38-56.

(1958). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 27:38-56

The Role of Object Relations in Moral Masochism

Bernhard Berliner, Ph.D.

I

'Moral masochism' is used in this paper as a general term for those forms in which masochism appears as a 'norm of behavior' (6) in contradistinction to masochistic sexual perversion or 'sexual masochism'. Freud defined moral masochism as the form that has 'loosened its connection with what we recognize to be sexuality', in which 'it is the suffering itself that matters'. However, the motivation is found in an unconscious feeling of guilt or need for punishment by some parental authority. Freud concludes that the Oedipus complex is regressively reactivated and morality is resexualized. Libido is after all the driving force in moral masochism as well as in sexual perversion.

However, there are forms of nonsexual masochistic behavior in which a need for punishment in terms of the Oedipus complex does not appear to be the primary motivating force and in which 'morality' is not manifestly involved. Other terms have therefore been proposed, such as 'social masochism' (Theodor Reik) or 'neurotic masochism' (Otto Sperling) or 'psychic masochism' (Edmund Bergler). In searching for more elementary psychodynamic mechanisms I find it impossible to draw a line of demarcation with regard to forces of morality. As the term 'moral masochism' has long been in general use and has outgrown the original narrower definition I see no reason not to apply it to all 'nonsexual' masochistic phenomena.

In psychoanalytic practice, however, the concept of masochism itself has become somewhat clouded because the term is often used for any form of self-inflicted neurotic suffering.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.