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Sadger, J. (1926). A Contribution to the Understanding of Sado-Masochism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 7:484-491.

(1926). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 7:484-491

A Contribution to the Understanding of Sado-Masochism

J. Sadger

Two of the problems connected with sado-masochism still require deeper exploration and formulation: the nature and the rôle of the instinct of mastery and the constant association of this perversion with hate, anal erotism and the obsessional neurosis. As regards the second problem, the only positive knowledge we possess at present is the relationship to castration, this regarded both as a dreaded and as a desired experience.

To approach a more complete understanding I will go a little further afield, harking back to the very roots of love and hate. Whoever has watched little children, from the new-born upwards, soon discovers that they learn to love those persons who are in constant attendance on their needs; first and foremost, naturally, come mother, foster-mother and nurse. But in this an important modification must be made. It is less a question of assistance in their needs generally—this falls to the lot of all little children, just as it does to most young animals—but is a matter of sexual needs in particular. It must be remembered that the satisfaction of even the simplest and most elementary of the ego-needs—the appeasing of hunger and the cleansing of the body—cannot be attained without a simultaneous strong excitation of erotogenic zones. The suckling cannot be fed without the pleasurable stimulation and satisfaction of its oral erotism, cannot be washed and cleansed without powerfully titillating the erotism of its skin and mucous membranes.

In my book Lehre von den Geschlechtsverirrungen, I suggested that Nature seems purposely to have so arranged things that sucking breast or bottle should be in itself pleasurable. We do not know anything directly about the deepest sensations of the suckling and the new-born child. But from the later years of childhood we get analogies which allow of a correct deduction.

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