Revisiting the "myth" of feminine masochism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Masochism, an enigmatic concept and clinical entity, has long posed one of the most difficult therapeutic challenges. Clinical observation supports the view that both men and women can exhibit masochistic traits. However, by virtue of their gender specific developmental paths, men and women may differ in their respective masochistic manifestations. Female patients often report a tendency to inhibit aggression which can lead to its somatic expression. Women also tend to be more prone to certain types of self-defeating behaviors and affective states, such as eating disorders, depression, and victimization. Factors contributing to the development of masochism in women include the influence of pre-oedipal and oedipal relations with the parents, narcissistic needs, and the internalization of societal attitudes toward women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-426
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Female
  • Masochism
  • Self-defeating
  • Self-harm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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