Standard Article


  1. Eric Beauregard1,
  2. Jean Proulx2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0809

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Beauregard, E. and Proulx, J. 2010. Sadism. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Simon Fraser University, Canada

  2. 2

    University of Montreal, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The origin of the term sadism is found in the literary works of French writer Marquis de Sade (1740–1814), but it was introduced into the medical field by Krafft-Ebing. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) offers a definition of sadism that coincides largely with that offered by Krafft-Ebing (1886/1965) over a century ago and requires “psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim to cause sexual excitement in the sadist” (p. 574). This definition of sexual sadism indicates that the origins of sexual pleasure and sexual excitement are found in fantasies or acts in which physical or psychological torture causes a victim to suffer. However, some authors have also specified the inclusion of the association of feelings of power and control with sexual pleasure and gratification (Yates, Hucker, & Kingston, 2008).


  • sadism;
  • diagnosis;
  • definitions;
  • evaluations