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Eidelberg, L. (1959). Humiliation in Masochism. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 7:274-283.

(1959). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 7:274-283

Humiliation in Masochism

Ludwig Eidelberg, M.D.

In this communication I propose to re-examine the role that humiliation plays in masochism in light of the subsequent development of ideas I had previously presented (3). According to Freud, all human beings try to achieve pleasure and to avoid unpleasure. We are in agreement with those analysts who do not regard the achievement of pleasure as being identical with the avoidance of unpleasure and who do not think that the loss of pleasure automatically produces unpleasure. Instead we assume that human beings may eliminate unpleasure and experience what this author refers to as "instinctual gratification" without having the emotion of pleasure (2).

The emotion of pleasure appears to accompany instinctual gratification only if the object and the methods of discharging the tension are pleasing to the total personality. We have the impression that pleasure and unpleasure can be referred to as emotional signals indicating the reaction of the total personality or perhaps only of the ego to certain sensations caused by the increase or the decrease of metabolites above or below a certain threshold.

To this must be added the role of anticipation in the experience of pleasure. An experience of forepleasure can only be considered pleasurable in anticipation of end pleasure (3). If end pleasure is not available each individual will experience, after a certain time, instead of forepleasure, unpleasure. Most analysts agree that the experience of end pleasure depends on a certain motor act and on the presence and availability of a set object.


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