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Cooper, A.M. Sacks, M.H. (1991). Sadism and Masochism in Character Disorder and Resistance. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:215-226.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:215-226

Sadism and Masochism in Character Disorder and Resistance

Arnold M. Cooper, M.D. and Michael H. Sacks, M.D.

COOPER INTRODUCED THE PANEL BY NOTING the current controversy in psychiatric nomenclature regarding a place for masochism. DSM-III-R rejected the term "masochism" and placed "self-defeating personality disorder" in an Appendix of Proposed Diagnostic Categories Needing Further Study. As psychoanalysts we would most likely disagree with this decision; it is an important diagnosis and concept in our work with patients, and hardly a new idea.

Cooper stated that recent changes in the psychoanalytic appreciation of narcissism and object relations, together with advances in developmental psychology, might make it an excellent time to reevaluate our understanding of sadism and masochism. Specifically, he asked that the panelists consider: (1) The developmental and clinical interrelations between masochism and sadism; (2) the nature of their gratification; (3) the relation of normal to pathological counterparts; (4) the motivaton for change in these disorders; (5) negative therapeutic reaction; and (6) countertransference response.

Jack Novick reviewed his and Kerry Novick's earlier study of the beating fantasy which Freud had described as the "essence of masochism." They found a normal transitory fantasy which was more often found in girls and easily gave way to interpretation or spontaneous modification. Its dynamics followed the classical formulation of oedipal conflicts leading to regression to anal-phase fixations around aggression and the beating wish. Revival of this fantasy in later life or in analysis was related to neurosis. This contrasted with the fixed beating fantasy which was often impervious to interpretive work and had many of the attributes commonly ascribed to character.

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