Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty - Vol. 2

By Wilhelm Stekel; Louise Brink | Go to book overview

XV
SELF-MUTILATION AND SELF-ACCUSATION

Fatal are those attacks of rage that are always likewise attacks of weakness.

ALFRED GRÜNEWALD.

The phenomenon of "pleasure in pain" leads to the strangest manifestations. Persons inflict wounds upon themselves or accuse themselves unwarrantably of most serious crimes, in order to receive the punishment dictated by the unconscious. The motive of "suffering innocently" is found among many masochists. The hidden motives for this attitude may be discovered only by analysis. Behind the masochism are concealed the sadism which we have learned to know and the sense of guilt that springs from it, which craves a punishment upon earth that it may escape the punishment of the Supreme Judge.

It would lead too far to mention all the follies to which the feeling of guilt leads these parapathics. There is the woman who reveals such a mania for operation that under the delusion of severe illnesses she misleads the most experienced surgeons to attempt a variety of operations; there is the man who runs to the police and accuses himself of a murder which some one else has committed; furthermore, the woman who receives anonymous indecent letters, is in despair over them, hastens to the police, engages private detectives, until it finally comes out that she herself has written the letters.

Such an example shall occupy us somewhat more closely, for it grants us deep insight into the masochistic psyche.

Case Number 38. A Russian professor of philology, a great man in his profession, came to me one day to be cured of his various disorders. He made a woeful impression. He described himself as the most unhappy man in the world. His whole life long he had been pursued by ill luck. He had already been analyzed twice (by laymen) without result. A mental disease had broken

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