Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To receive notifications about new content…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Want to receive notifications about new content in PEP Web? For more information about this feature, click here

To sign up to PEP Web Alert for weekly emails with new content updates click click here.

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

Celenza, A. (2000). Sadomasochistic Relating: What's Sex Got to Do with it?. Psychoanal Q., 69(3):527-543.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(3):527-543

Sadomasochistic Relating: What's Sex Got to Do with it?

Andrea Celenza, Ph.D.

The sexuality in sadomasochistic relating is most often viewed as defensive, functioning to erotize the repetition of earlier trauma, as a defense against painful affect, or as masking early, nonerotic needs for recognition and autonomy. However, this emphasis on the nonerotic dimension of so-called sexualized experience leads to symbolic interpretations of sexuality; this “deliteralization of sexuality” requires some embodiment in the concrete and literal, or metaphor is delinked from that which it is derived.

Without discounting the validity of such formulations, this paper aims to put the drive (libido) back into formulations of sadomasochistic relations, and discusses the erotic dimension in sadomasochistic relations as an irreducible, hidden structure that both threatens and sustains the destructive attachment. It is suggested that sexuality is a driving force behind sadomasochistic interplay, while aggression may be recruited for defensive, concealing purposes. Through a case illustration, this paper demonstrates how sadomasochistic relating is symbolically penetrating, teasing, withholding, and intensifying in hate-inducing ways, all of which are designed to gratify and simultaneously harden the other. In many cases, sadomasochistic

sexuality may be viewed as aggressivized, paradoxically, to maintain safety under the regressive pull of sexual and preoedipal longings.

[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 © 2021, 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.