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Ideas in Psychoanalysis: Sadomasochism

Estela Welldon

  • Estela Welldon contests the view that sadomasochism is an isolated ‘perversion’. Using numerous examples from literature, film, opera and other media, she undertakes an exploration of the psychodynamic aspects of sadomasochism that carries us from the writings of de Sade and von Sacher-Masoch to the contemporary underground S&M club scene. Challenging our expectations that S&M is concerned only with ‘bizarre’ activities, Welldon illuminates the dynamics of power and control in everyday family life and sexual relationships. Her investigation deepens to include the downward spiral of domestic violence and child abuse, and the ‘malignant bonding’ between couples in cases such as Ian Brady and Myra Hindley and Fred and Rose West. Is sadomasochism invariably present in the victim-perpetrator cycle? Is it learned or innate? Are sadism and masochism complete opposites, or do they complement one another? Are they specifically related to the genders? Welldon asks these questions and many more in a fluent, thought-provoking essay.

Identification and its vicissitudes as observed in the perversions.

Glasser M

  • This paper aims to contribute to the clarification of the different meanings of the concept of identification and the different processes involved in the making of an identification, by considering the perversions as disorders of internalization. The different forms of internalization are regarded as lying along a continuum of which identification is at one extreme and involves the incorporation of (part of) the object-representation into the self-representation. The pervert is shown to be unable to carry out the process of identification because he is fixated at an early developmental phase which I refer to as the 'core complex': instead of identification he has to make use of 'stimulation' in which the subject unconsciously models himself on (parts of) the object. The crucial role the body plays in these dynamics is considered. Exploration of these issues highlights how, in order for identification to take place, the issues of the core complex need to be adequately resolved in the course of normal development.

Infanticide, Matricide or Suicide?

Carine Minne

  • This chapter by Carine Minne in the British Journal of Psychotherapy gives an account of a young woman suffering from a personality disorder who killed her baby and her psychoanalytic psychotherapy treatment in high security over several years. 

International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies

  • The June 2015 issue of the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies is dedicated to forensic psychotherapy and populated by articles by IAFP members. Please click on the link to access this very special issue online.

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