The role of sexuality in sadism: Object relations and drive theory perspectives

Samuel Juni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

The sexual components of sadism are conceptualized within the contexts of different forms of sadism. In aggression-drive sadism, sexuality is seen as a generalization of instinctual reactivity. Parallels are presented of such spillover between aggression and anxiety and even between aggression and oral impulses, with the notion that any areas of excitation or partial impulses can be energized by the acute release of energy in another domain. Another dynamic is presented for re-enactment sadists, in which the sexuality has a relational meaning. In such cases, sexuality is intertwined with the aggression, as the sadistic ritual actually re-evokes an original trauma that features these elements. It is further agued that the sexuality in these two sadistic modes is not consistent. The instinctual spillover that occurs in hostile psychopathy is psychosexually rooted in phallic functioning, in which relational implications are absent, while the sexuality in re-enacted sadism is genitally based, and is intrinsically linked to an imagined emotional relationship with the victim that is intended to ameliorate and undo past trauma that haunt the perpetrator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-329
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychoanalysis
Volume69
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Keywords

  • Drive theory
  • Object relations
  • Re-enactment
  • Sadism
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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