The terms "sadism" and "masochism" were coined by Krafft-Ebing in 1893, with reference to the Marquis de Sade and Baron Sacher von Masoch. Though the term sadism has a longer history. It first appears in a French dictionary in 1834, just twenty years after the death of De Sade. Krafft-Ebing used the terms in a very specific sense, to refer to a sexual perversion in which sexual satisfaction is dependent upon inflicting pain on others (sadism) or upon experiencing pain oneself (masochism).
When Freud took up the terms in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, he used them in the same sense as Krafft-Ebing. Following Krafft-Ebing, Freud posited an intrinsic connection between sadism and masochism, arguing that they are simply the active and passive aspects of a single perversion.
Lacan too argues that sadism and masochism are intimately related, both being related to the invocatory drive Both the masochist and the sadist locate themselves as the object of the invocatory drive, the voice. However, whereas Freud argues that sadism is primary, Lacan argues that masochism is primary, and sadism is derived from it: "sadism is merely the disavowal of masochism." Thus, whereas the masochist prefers to experience the pain of existence in his own body, the sadist rejects this pain and forces the Other to bear it. Masochism occupies a special place among the perversions, just as the invoking drive occupies a privileged place among the partial drives; it is the "limit-experience" in the attempt to go beyond the pleasure principle.
Although jouissance is linked to the sensation of physical or mental suffering, there is an important difference between masochism and jouissance. In masochism, pain is a means to pleasure; pleasure is taken in the very fact of suffering itself, so that it becomes difficult to distinguish pleasure from pain. With jouissance, on the other hand, pleasure and pain remain distinct; no pleasure is taken in the pain itself, but the pleasure cannot be obtained without paying the price of suffering. It is thus a kind of deal in which "pleasure and pain are presented as a single packet."
- Freud, Sigmund. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, 1905d. SE VII, 125.
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 183
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 186
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 778
- Seminar of 27 February 1963. J. Lacan, The Seminar. Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. p. 189.