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Glucksman, M.L. (2015). Discussion of Masochism and Pathological Gambling: A Review of Masochism. Psychodyn. Psych., 43(1):27-45.
(2015). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43(1):27-45
Discussion of Masochism and Pathological Gambling: A Review of Masochism
Myron L. Glucksman, M.D.
Richard Rosenthal's article on “Masochism and Pathological Gambling” (2015) examines the phenomenon of pathological gambling with a special emphasis on its masochistic aspects. In this discussion, I intend to focus on the general topic of masochism, including some comments on Rosenthal's article. At the outset, a definition of masochism is in order: masochism involves a constellation of fantasies, feelings, ideation, and behaviors characterized by subjectively experienced, self-directed pain, suffering, guilt, humiliation, or failure that seems unnecessary, excessive, and largely self-induced. Masochistic symptoms and behavior may constitute the central elements of a disorder, such as Self-Defeating Personality Disorder (DSM-III-R; APA, 1987), Masochistic Personality Disorder(Cooper, 2009), Sexual Masochism Disorder (DSM-5; APA, 2013), or may be a significant component of any other type of psychiatric disorder. In this discussion, I shall explore the developmental factors, psychodynamic processes, clinical manifestations, and treatment issues involved in masochism.
In his review of masochism, Rosenthal (2015) refers to Freud's (1924) observation that the masochist has a need for punishment from a parental power. To evoke this punishment, “the masochist must do what is inexpedient, must act against his own interests, must ruin the prospects which open out to him in the real world and must, perhaps, destroy his own real existence” (p. 169). It is noteworthy that Freud made no reference to sexuality in this statement, although his initial observations on masochism were intimately linked to his early theory of sexual development. In “Three Essays on Sexuality” (1905), Freud refers to Krafft-Ebing's (1895) description of the term “masochism” that was named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote Venus in Furs(1870).
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