Masochist Masochism Between taboo and desire. | dengem

Masochist / Masochism: Between taboo and desire

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What is a masochist?

A masochist is someone who practices masochism. Masochism is a term often used in psychology to describe a psychological condition in which a person derives pleasure from experiencing pain or humiliation. This can be physical pain, such as whipping or bondage, or psychological pain, such as humiliation or power play. This disorder, also known as masochistic personality disorder, is difficult to diagnose and treat.

In this article you will find out what masochism is, its symptoms and causes, the characteristics of masochistic men and women, the dangers of masochism and how to get rid of it.

What is masochism?

Masochism is a sexual disorder characterised by a desire to experience pain or humiliation. This behaviour is often associated with BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism and masochism).

This behaviour is often associated with masochistic personality disorder, which is characterised by self-destructive behaviour, a tendency to reject normal pleasures and a search for situations involving pain or humiliation.

Masochists may be prone to self-harm, self-mutilation, self-injury and similar self-destructive behaviours.

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What are the symptoms of masochism?

The symptoms of masochism can vary from person to person. Some people may have more severe symptoms, while others may have milder symptoms. Some common symptoms of masochism include

  • A desire for pain or humiliation
  • Tendency to put oneself in painful or humiliating situations
  • Inability to enjoy normal pleasures
  • Self-harming behaviour
  • Need to control one’s own pain
  • Self-harm, self-destruction or other self-harming behaviour
  • Shyness, guilt or fear
  • Difficulty forming or maintaining healthy relationships
  • Tendency to withdraw from people
  • A history of sexual abuse or trauma

What causes masochism?

Although the causes of masochism are not fully understood, there are several factors that may contribute to the development of this disorder. Some possible causes are:

  • Childhood trauma or abuse: People who have experienced childhood trauma or abuse are more likely to have masochistic tendencies. This may be due to a need to control their own suffering or to relive past traumatic experiences.
  • Genetics: Masochistic Personality Disorder may have a genetic component. Studies have shown that there may be a link between certain genes and the development of the disorder.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as a chaotic or abusive home environment may also contribute to the development of masochism.
  • Mental health problems: People with certain mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, may be more likely to develop masochistic tendencies.

What are the characteristics of women who are masochistic?

Masochistic women may have some specific characteristics. These may include

  • A tendency to seek out exploitative or controlling partners
  • An inability to set boundaries in relationships
  • A tendency to blame themselves for problems in relationships
  • A history of sexual abuse or trauma
  • Excessive need for approval and validation from others
  • Tendency to sacrifice self to meet the needs of others
  • Fear of abandonment or rejection
  • Difficulty expressing own needs and wants
  • Low self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Tendency to self-harm or other self-destructive behaviour
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Men’s masochistic characteristics

Masochistic men can also have some specific characteristics. These may include

  • A tendency to seek out dominant or controlling partners
  • An inability to express themselves in relationships
  • A tendency to blame themselves for problems in relationships
  • A history of sexual abuse or trauma
  • Need for power and control in personal and professional life
  • Tendency to take on too much responsibility and overburden themselves
  • Difficulty expressing emotions and vulnerability
  • Low self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Tendency to self-harm or other self-destructive behaviour

Is masochism dangerous?

Masochism itself is not dangerous, but self-harm or other self-harming behaviours can be.

People with masochistic tendencies are also at risk of developing other mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. People with masochistic personality disorder may also have difficulty forming healthy relationships and may be vulnerable to abuse or other trauma.

What types of masochism are there?

Masochism can manifest itself in different ways in sexual, emotional or psychological behaviour. Here are a few types of masochism:

  • Sexual masochism: In sexual masochism, a person experiences sexual satisfaction or arousal through the experience of pain, submission or humiliation. This can take the form of BDSM practices such as spanking, bondage or dominance and submission.
  • Emotional masochism: Emotional masochism occurs when a person derives pleasure or satisfaction from emotional pain or humiliation. This can take the form of self-harming behaviour, a desire for punishment or a tendency to maintain toxic relationships.
  • Psychological masochism: Psychological masochism refers to the tendency to place oneself in emotionally painful or humiliating situations. This may include repeatedly entering into destructive relationships or engaging in dangerous or self-destructive situations.
  • Cultural masochism: This term is sometimes used to describe the behaviour of societies or groups that portray themselves in a negative light or see themselves as inferior. This can lead to stereotypical self-criticism or discrimination.
    Masochism test

There is no specific test for masochism, but a mental health professional can diagnose the condition through a thorough assessment of symptoms, behaviour and personal history. This may include a psychological assessment, a physical examination and an interview with the person and their family.

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How can you tell if someone is a masochist?

Signs of a masochistic person may include

  • Repeated self-harming behaviour. This could be self-injury, excessive risk-taking or substance abuse. It is important that the person derives some pleasure from these behaviours.
  • A tendency to seek out bad or unhealthy relationships. Masochists may be attracted to partners who treat them badly because it validates their low self-esteem. They need to be treated as they deserve.
  • They get pleasure from physical or emotional pain. This may mean being indifferent to activities that cause physical pain or discomfort, or imagining being hurt or humiliated.
  • Difficulty setting limits. Masochists often have difficulty saying “no” and expressing their needs. They deliberately allow others to take advantage of them.
  • Strong feelings of guilt. Masochists often feel that they do not deserve happiness and pleasure. They tend to unconsciously seek out pain and punishment.

However, not all of these symptoms may be present in a person with masochistic tendencies. If you suspect that you may be a masochist, it is advisable to seek psychological counselling.

If the pleasure you get from pain, humiliation or injury affects your health, you may have masochistic tendencies. In this case, professional help is very valuable.

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How to overcome masochistic tendencies

How to stop masochistic tendencies:

  • Seek professional help: Therapy, especially cognitive behavioural therapy, can help you identify and change the thought patterns that lead to your masochistic behaviour. A therapist can help you develop healthier habits and relationships.
  • Practice mindfulness and self-awareness: Keep a journal to record your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Try to identify triggers that lead you down self-destructive paths. Seize the moment and respond differently.
  • Set healthy boundaries: Learn to say “no” and express your needs, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Start by taking small steps to set boundaries in low-risk situations. It will become easier over time.$
  • Avoid people and situations that encourage masochistic behaviour: This may mean distancing yourself from harmful friends, leaving unhealthy relationships, or staying away from triggers.
  • Improve your self-esteem: Get involved in activities that give you confidence and competence. Focus on your interests and set realistic goals to improve your self-esteem. Try to recognise your positive qualities.
  • Challenge your negative thought patterns: If you find yourself thinking critical thoughts, look at them from a balanced, realistic perspective. Fight your negative inner voice.
  • Take care of yourself: Engage in hobbies, exercise, meditation and other activities that you enjoy. Take care of your physical and emotional needs. Don’t forget that you are entitled to happiness.
  • Consider medication if necessary: For extreme masochistic tendencies, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications combined with therapy can help alleviate the underlying issues that trigger your masochistic behaviour.

It’s about identifying the causes of masochistic tendencies and replacing unhealthy patterns with healthy alternatives. With time, patience and effort, you can overcome masochism and lead a more meaningful life that focuses on self-care, relationships and your inner strengths. Professional counselling is often essential.

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How do you recover from masochism?

Recovering from masochism can be a difficult process, but it is possible with the right treatment. Effective treatments for masochistic personality disorder may include

Psychotherapy: Therapy can help people with masochistic tendencies explore the causes of their behaviour and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) are two forms of therapy that have been shown to be effective in treating masochism.
Medication: In some cases, medication such as antidepressants or mood stabilisers may be prescribed to treat the symptoms of masochism and other mental health problems.
Support groups: Joining a support group can provide a safe and supportive environment where you can share your experiences and meet other people with similar problems.
Self-help strategies: Self-care, setting healthy boundaries and engaging in activities that bring pleasure and fulfilment can help people with masochistic tendencies manage their symptoms and lead healthier and happier lives.

It is important to note that masochistic tendencies do not necessarily indicate a mental disorder. However, if your masochistic tendencies are causing you stress or discomfort, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you understand your behaviour better and give you the support and resources you need to manage it in a healthy and safe way.

How can Dengem help you?

Masochism can have a significant impact on a person’s life, making it difficult to maintain healthy relationships and leading to other mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. However, with the right treatment, people with masochistic tendencies can learn to manage their symptoms and lead happier and healthier lives.

Dengem can help with a team of experienced psychologists! Dengem’s psychologists can help you find the best treatment approach tailored to your individual needs and situation. You can make an appointment with one of our psychologists at any time.

Getting the counselling you need in your own language is easy with dengem!

Take care of your soul with dengem, because you are important to us.


  • *Jess. (2023, March 15). Sexual Masochism Disorder – United Brain Association. United Brain Association. Mazoşist Ne Demek
  • Lautieri, A. (2019). Sexual Disorder Symptoms – Sexual Masochism And Sadism. Mazoşist Ne Demek
  • MSEd, K. C. (2023). The Types and Signs of a Masochist. Verywell Mind. Mazoşist Ne Demek