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Kamiat, A.H. (1936). Male Masochism and Culture. Psychoanal. Rev., 23A(1):84-91.

(1936). Psychoanalytic Review, 23A(1):84-91

Male Masochism and Culture

Arnold H. Kamiat

There is need for a more adequate description and evaluation of the role that male masochism has played as a maker of history. And this role has been and still is a great one, far greater than is suspected. Masochism has at last come under scientific observation, but the number of psychologists who have made it an object of study is very small. And they, furthermore, have devoted themselves almost exclusively to the medical aspects of the subject. Attention needs to be paid, however, to the anthropology and sociology of masochism—to the manner in which it has operated to give shape to a variety of human activities.

This article will endeavor to furnish a rough notion of the manner in which male masochism seems to have infiltrated into cultural history. It will be freely granted that any of the phenomena cited below may turn out to be explicable in terms of a theory that excludes masochism. This survey is intended to indicate that masochism must stand under strong suspicion as a co-conspirator in the determination of certain classes of historical fact.

Male masochism will be defined as an impulsion in the male toward the derivation of erotic pleasure from the domination, actual or fancied, of the feminine over the masculine.

Modern psychology justifiably employs the terms sado-masochism and algolagnia, in recognition of the correlation of the sadistic and masochistic impulses. But the peculiar contributions that male masochism appears to have made to history justify a distinction, for the present purpose, between masochism and its compresent sadism on the one hand, and between male masochism and female masochism on the other. The latter seems also to have operated to give shape to history, and that in no inconsiderable way. The operations of male masochism, however, possess an intrinsic interest that justifies the special treatment it will receive here.

Religion, mythology, art, literature, and social organization have in the past, and to some extent in the present, exhibited certain features that are strongly suggestive of the operation of male masochistic impulses. This is the thesis of the present writing.

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