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Kernberg, O.F. (1991). Sadomasochism, Sexual Excitement, and Perversion. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:333-362.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:333-362

Sadomasochism, Sexual Excitement, and Perversion

Otto F. Kernberg, M.D.

ABSTRACT

Sadomasochism, an ingredient of infantile sexuality, is an essential part of normal sexual functioning and love relations, and of the very nature of sexual excitement. Sadomasochistic elements are also present in all sexual perversions. Sadomasochism starts out as the potential for erotic masochism in both sexes, and represents a very early capacity to link aggression with the libidinal elements of sexual excitement. Sexual excitement may be considered a basic affect that overcomes primitive splitting of love and hatred. Erotic desire is a more mature form of sexual excitement.

Psychoanalytic exploration makes it possible to uncover the unconscious components of sexual excitement: wishes for symbiotic fusion and for aggressive penetration and intermingling; bisexual identifications; the desire to transgress oedipal prohibitions and the secretiveness of the primal scene, and to violate the boundaries of a teasing and withholding object. The relation between these wishes and the development of erotic idealization processes in both sexes is explored in the context of a critical review of the pertinent psychoanalytic literature.

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