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Sugarman, A. (1991). Developmental Antecedents of Masochism: Vignettes from the Analysis of a 3-Year-Old Girl. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 72:107-116.

(1991). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 72:107-116

Developmental Antecedents of Masochism: Vignettes from the Analysis of a 3-Year-Old Girl

Alan Sugarman


This paper suggests that masochism be understood as an organizing concept which involves drives, defence mechanisms, superego elements, self and object representations as well as environmentally based interpersonal relationships. Vignettes from the analysis of a 3-year-old girl who presented with protomasochistic provocativeness are offered to illustrate the multiple functions served by such behaviour. The opportunity to study such developmental antecedents of masochism demonstrates that such symptoms have intrapsychic meanings even at such an early age. The role of external reality must be considered in regard to its structuring and stimulating influences on intrapsychic factors rather than regarded as the sole cause of masochism. Finally, it is important to realize that masochism has forerunners at all developmental stages rather than to try to reduce its origins to any one developmental epoch.

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