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(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. VII, 1959: Stimulus-Response Cycles and Ego Development: With Special Reference to the Masochistic Ego. Norbert Bromberg. Pp. 227-247.. Psychoanal Q., 29:591.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. VII, 1959: Stimulus-Response Cycles and Ego Development: With Special Reference to the Masochistic Ego. Norbert Bromberg. Pp. 227-247.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:591

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. VII, 1959: Stimulus-Response Cycles and Ego Development: With Special Reference to the Masochistic Ego. Norbert Bromberg. Pp. 227-247.

Bromberg employs his concept of the stimulus-response cycle to provide an understanding of the fundamentals of masochism. The full cycle consists of the four phases of equilibrium, stimulation, reaction, and integration, in that order. In all situations of stimulation, however painful, there is invariably a component of sexual excitation, and the response made combines both sexual pleasure and the aggressive discharges necessary to ensure this pleasure. Bromberg draws upon Freud's dictum that in the infant situations of pain extend into sexual excitation to produce conditions that are pleasurable, but considers this process to be still active in adult life. Using the itch-scratch complex as a model, he describes the source of pleasure associated with pain as being the sexual excitation and concomitant longing for its gratification (stimulus hunger), associated peripherally with any painful state. Genetically, the eventual masochist is one who early in life has suffered repeated experiences (inadequate feeding and care) which flood him with unpleasant stimuli, yet do not provide avenues for adequate discharge, so that large quantities of aggression are stirred up and 'the ego tends to exploit the trapped energy for the gratification of the stimulus hunger'. The author delineates traits he has observed in the parents of moral masochists, emphasizing their practice of severely inhibiting drive expression while simultaneously stimulating the impulses that are proscribed. The moral masochist dislikes suffering as much as anyone else, but has learned through disappointments to extract what libidinal gratification he can from the stimulus-hunger-eliciting effect of the consequent pain.

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Article Citation

(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. VII, 1959. Psychoanal. Q., 29:591

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