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Sadism and masochism on the Procrustean bed of hysteria : from Psychopathia Sexualis to Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

  • De Vleminck, Jens
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2017
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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This contribution presents a reconstruction of the way the concepts of sadism and masochism were introduced and anchored in psychoanalytic metapsychology. It focuses on the first two editions of Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Freud's singular indebtedness to Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis is emphasized. Subsequently, it is argued that Freud's selective reading of Krafft-Ebing is determined by the former's model of hysteria. Hysteria functions as the Procrustean bed onto which both sadism and masochism are forced by Freud at that time. It is argued that Freud in fact fails to give an adequate account of sadism and masochism in his Three Essays. Moreover, even in his later work, sadism and masochism remain conceptually problematic passe-partout concepts, which are used in order to get to grips with human aggression.

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