CAN MASOCHISM BE CURED?
This question carries a subtle pre-conceived notion of masochism – that masochism is a sickness or disease of some sort that needs to be cured. It’s the type of question that is raised with any socially deviant act, along the lines of “can homosexuality be cured” (still being debated, even in 2014).
First, if we are clear about what masochism is – you can find that here – then we are clear that masochism is not some sort of disease or sickness, so there is no need to discuss whether it can be cured or not.
If the question is actually more like “should I suppress my masochistic urge?” then the question could be answered this way – look into your desire for pain. Is it part of your sexuality?
If it is, i see no reason to suppress that part of your soul. Sure, it won’t be easy to allow yourself to go where you need to go. Exploring any sexual deviance means going outside of the normative sphere, but what would be the point in denying a part of your sexuality?
If you don’t see it as an inbuilt part of your sexuality, and you’re just looking for some fun and a quick rush of endorphins, then there’s probably still no point in suppressing the desire. If you’re thinking about it, than you’ll probably enjoy it, and no-one gets harmed by that.
For me personally, when i look at my motivations, i see the way i associate masochism and spirituality.
If your desire for pain is actually a desire for assisted self-harm, or hurting yourself through the BDSM practices of Sadomasochism, it is slightly more complex. We’ve written a bit about it here. There isn’t any hard line distinction for where self-harm ends and masochism begins. Someone who is dealing with mental illness might find Sadomasochism practises under BDSM therapeutic, as someone would actually inflict pain for you that leads to the relief you are looking for. It’s something that you can’t ask your counsellor to do. In this case, Sadomasochism might function as a professional therapeutic pain treatment for someone who is dealing with mental illness.
DO WE NEED TO REPRESS THE DESIRE FOR PAIN?
i find no reason to deny the nature of the human mind, unless it’s harmful to someone else. Bowing to societal expectations and not listening to what your heart has to say seems like a waste to me. It’s that pressure for homogenization – pink is for girls, blue is for boys, marriage equals one plus one and must be male and female, men can’t cry, women can’t be bossy.
i also think there’s a real danger that someone who constantly denies a part of their sexuality (in this case, being a masochist) could cause themselves some kind of mental illness. Social exclusion can certainly be mentally challenging, and outright denial of your own urges means that you will probably not seek out a community of peers. Yes, it can be tough having a secret life outside of the “norm”, but it can be tougher still to not have that life at all.
Further Reading – masochism
• Psychoanalysis Journal – Immanent masochism
• livescience – BDSM healthier than Vanilla
• Evilmonk – Dimensions of masochistic surrender
• Northern Illinois University – The enigmatic appeal of sexual masochism