Standard Article

Sadomasochistic Personality

  1. Jack Novick,
  2. Kerry Kelly Novick

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0811

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Novick, J. and Novick, K. K. 2010. Sadomasochistic Personality. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The term sadomasochism usually refers to a sexual perversion, an attachment or addiction to pain with or without sexual excitement, and a personality type. Early in the history of psychoanalysis, Freud wrote to Jung, “In my practice, I am chiefly concerned with the problem of repressed sadism in my patients; I regard it as the most frequent cause of failure of therapy.…In general, sadism is becoming more and more important to me” (quoted in Novick & Novick, 2007, p. 42). Freud remained intrigued by the complexity of sadomasochism, and each major shift in psychoanalytic theory stemmed directly from his clinical experience with masochistic phenomena. However, by the end of his career, even Freud had to note that “we are specially inadequate” in dealing with masochistic patients (quoted in Novick & Novick, 2007, p. 42).


  • sadomasochism;
  • omnipotence;
  • self-regulation;
  • development;
  • personality disorders