Origins of “Sadomasochism”

Origins of the term “sadomasochism”

The word sadomasochism was coined in 1922 by combining the words sadism and masochism. It means:

the derivation of pleasure from the infliction of physical or mental pain either on others or on oneself.

Marquis de Sade 

The word sadism is derived from de Sade’s name.  Born in Paris on June 2,1740, the Marquis de Sade’s full name was Donatien Alphonse François, comte de Sade.  This French author was best known for his erotic works which  were predominantly written while imprisoned (off and on for almost 30 years of his adult life).  In 1803 he was confined to the insane asylum, Charenton, until his death on December 2, 1814. Because he regarded criminal and sexually deviant acts as natural, his novels were banned into the 20th century.

Richard von Krafft-Ebing

 Born on August 14, 1840 in Mannheim, Germany, this noted physician and neurologist was recognized as an authority on deviant sexual behavior.   Krafft-Ebing, a pioneering professor of sexual psychopathology, helped to advance psychology as a clinical science. He first coined the term masochist, inspired by the life of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. He did not see the terms sadism and masochism as compliments as they are commonly thought of today. Sadists were sexually aroused by inflicting pain on others or themselves. Masochists, on the other hand, were aroused by fantasies of being controlled, dominated and humiliated.  His most noted work is Psychopathia sexualis (1886, tr. 1892).  Krafft-Ebing died in Austria on December 22, 1902.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was born in Lemberg, Austria (now the Ukraine) in 1836.  This Austrian writer was best known for his novel “Venus in Furs” (1931, originally written in German in 1874).  As in all his books, this novel detailed his obsession with masochistic fantasies.  Venus is supposedly a true story.  Sacher-Mashoch died in Austria in 1895.  His name and life was the inspiration for the term masochist.

Leave a Reply