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Freudian Dictionary

The roots of active algolagnia, sadism, can be readily demonstrable in the normal individual. The sexuality of most men shows an admixture of aggression, of a desire to subdue, the biological significance of which lies in the necessity for overcoming the resistance of the sexual object by actions other than mere courting. Sadism would then correspond to an aggressive component of the sexual instinct which has become independent and exaggerated and has been brought to the foreground by displacement.
The concept of sadism fluctuates in everyday speech from a mere active or impetuous attitude towards the sexual object to an absolute attachment of the gratification to the subjection and maltreatment of the object. Stricly speaking, only the last extreme case can claim the name of perversion.[1]


Sadism is pleasure derived from inflicting cruelty on another person. Richard von Krafft-Ebing coined the term in reference to the writings of the Marquis de Sade. In "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" (1905d) Sigmund Freud described sadism as the active form in a pair of opposites, masochism being the passive form of the same sexual perversion. Two pregenital libidinal phases are described, the oral-sadistic (or cannibalistic) stage, and the anal-sadistic stage, which remains active during later libidinal development....

Sadism and masochism represent contrasting forms of pleasure derived from sexual excitation linked to cruelty and the infliction of pain. While both currents are present in any given individual, they also represent pregenital links in an intersubjective context in which one partner is the sadist and the other the masochist. Sadomasochism may have an oral component but takes on characteristic form during the anal sadistic stage.

In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d), Freud pointed out that sadism and masochism,...