A well written research paper on Masochism could begin like: Masochism is a bit of a taboo topic when writing a research paper. However, in academia, the concept of machoism isn't necessarily associated with something negative. Your research project should note that you can approach the topic of masochism in a variety of ways, depending on the individual, the environment, and the context in which it is being considered.
- Masochism can be seen in a psychological manner, evidenced by not only the individual’s desire to experience humiliation in some form, but in their actively seeking out these scenarios as a means to achieving this desire. This can impact the individual’s ability to forge lasting relationships with other adults, however, manifesting in some individuals a sort of personality disorder.
- Masochism can manifest as a sexual issue as a means of reaching a state of physical and/or mental arousal through one of the following ways:
- physical pain
- other forms of suffering
What does Freud have to Say on on Masochism
The historical roots of masochism can be traced to Austrian writer and psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing: when writing about fellow author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, he identified the undercurrent of what is today known as masochism in many of the former’s writings. Coining the term “masochism” to describe this thematic element, Krafft-Ebing provided a means of identifying this element of human behavior. Some suggest that Sacher-Masoch himself suffered from the behavior elements of masochism as a result of some of the translations of his biographical material, but this has not been proven conclusively.
As expected, your research paper should note that Freud had a tremendous amount of input on the concept of masochism. The relationship between the two instincts comes out in Freud’s discussion of sadism and masochism. Sadism, with its obvious relationship to the pleasure of sexual gratification serves the need of Eros while the act of meting out punishment or inflicting pain onto others fulfills the need for destruction. Masochism, on the other hand, directs the sexually charged punitive behavior inwardly.
Freud also puts forth the theory that the instinct for destruction may be demonstrated independently from its interaction with Eros. He says in Civilization and its Discontents, “I can no longer understand how we can have overlooked the ubiquity of non-erotic aggressively and destructiveness and can have failed to give it its due place in our interpretation of life". Freud’s explanation of human nature as expressed in the book Civilization and its Discontents portrays man and, by extension, civilization as an organism torn between warring instincts. Life, according to the author, is essentially a fundamental conflict between two opposing forces in the mind. If Eros represents the instinct to preserve and unite the human race, it is opposed by the drive for death and destruction, thus establishing a great challenge for man to live his life in a productive and fulfilled manner.
Masochism and Psychological Theory
Freud’s theory has obvious implications for everyday life and manifests itself daily in the choices we make from recreational activities we pursue to the foods we eat. Will it be the peace and tranquility of yoga or the excitement of motorcycle racing? Even the mundane task of satisfying hunger reflects the two instincts at work. Do we want cheese doodles or celery sticks?
As a more concrete example, consider the following not-so-uncommon phenomenon. During a young girl’s formative years, she is often told to seek a mate who works hard, is loyal and faithful, gentle and considerate. Why then, do many women become intrigued with the “bad boy?” It seems that Freud’s theory is alive and well. Although the former may logically be the best choice for husband and father material, the good, steady man can’t ignite the fire that the dangerous characteristics of the bad boy bring to a relationship. She’s torn between the desire for a safe but boring relationship with a unexciting man and the urge to align herself in a potentially destructive relationship that turns her on, thus demonstrating the unerring truth in Freud’s theory of warring instincts.