chapter  5
23 Pages

Freud reads Krafft-Ebing

The case of sadism and masochism
WithJens De Vleminck

This chapter aims to develop a brief genealogy of both sadism and masochism. Before the introduction of the death instinct, they served for many years as the only concepts through which Freud dealt with the complex theme of human aggressiveness. From the very beginning, however, both sadism and masochism were problematic concepts for him. The chapter argues that the very specific way in which Freud takes over the concepts from Krafft-Ebing, re-conceptualizing and anchoring them in psychoanalytic metapsychology, is of crucial importance for understanding Freud's subsequent struggle with them, which continues until his final writings. More specifically, Freud's re-conceptualization of both sadism and masochism in accordance with the model of the hysterical body, including the prevalence of the erotogenic zones, is of determining importance in the Three Essays. The chapter focuses on Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, and argues that Freud's research matrix of hysteria functions as the bed of Procrustes for both sadism and masochism.