Masochistic Personality Disorder (Masochism)

Uploaded 11/7/2012, approx. 2 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

The masochist has been taught from an early age to hate herself and to consider herself unworthy of love and worthless as a person. Consequently, she is prone to self-destructive, punishing and self-defeating behaviors.

Though capable of pleasure and possessed of social skills, the masochist avoids or undermines pleasurable experiences. She does not admit to enjoying herself. She seeks suffering, pain and hurt in relationships and situations. She rejects help and resents people who offer help. She actively renders futile attempts to assist or ameliorate or mitigate or even solve their problems and predicaments.

And these self-penalizing behaviors are also self-purging. They tend to relieve the masochist with overwhelming pent-up anxiety. They are cathartic.

Masochist conduct is equally aimed at avoiding intimacy and its benefits, companionship and support, as it is at punishing herself.

And so masochists tend to choose people and circumstances that inevitably and predictably lead to failure, misdelusionment, disappointment and mistreatment.

Contrary to this, they tend to avoid relationships, interactions and circumstances and people that are likely to result in success or gratification.

They reject, disdain or even suspect people who consistently treat them well.

Masochist find caring, loving people sexually unattractive. The masochist typically adopts unrealistic goals and this way she generates underachievements, inevitably.

Masochist routinely fail at mundane tasks, even when these tasks are crucial to their own advancement and personal objectives. And even when they adequately carry out identical assignments on behalf of others.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual gives this amusing example. Helps fellow students write papers but is unable to write her own paper.

So, when the masochist fails and de-attends at self-sabotage, she reacts with rage, depression and guilt. She is likely to compensate for her undesired achievements and happiness by having an accident or by engaging in behaviors that produce abandonment, frustration, hurt, illness or even physical pain.

Some masochists make harmful self-sacrifices uncalled for by the situation and unwanted by the intended beneficiaries or recipients.

The projective identification defense mechanism is frequently explained with masochist. The masochist deliberately provokes, solicits and incites angry disparaging and rejecting responses from others in order to feel unfamiliar territory in her comfort zone.

When she is humiliated, devastated, hurt and defeated, she feels good.

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