Desire, Pain and Thought presents a new perspective on primal erotogenic masochism, which Marilia Aisenstein regards as the core of psychoanalytic theory.

Aisenstein distinguishes between pathological masochism – the active search for pain – and primal erotogenic masochism, which she believes develops in early childhood. Desire, Pain and Thought explains that the formation of this response in a child is essential to the survival of the individual and the development of resilience. Aisenstein skillfully and convincingly uses her deep understanding of metapsychology and her mastery of Freud’s seminal papers to demonstrate that thought is one of the manifestations of desire which implies a painful renunciation of the object of desire. By moving away from its pathological, negative connotation to a more positive one, the book presents an understanding of masochism as "the guardian of life".

Desire, Pain and Thought will be essential reading for psychoanalysts in practice and in training.

Series editor’s forward


Introduction: primal masochism: the navel of psychoanalytic theory

1. The enigma of pain

2. The birth of desire

3. Tiredness: a masochism "in the feminine"

4. When masochism is lacking

5. Thinking: an act of the flesh

6. On the destruction of thought processes

7. Submission and thought

Annex: On primary erotogenic masochism, an imaginary dialogue with Benno Rosenberg