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An algolagnist is a person who feels sexual pleasure while experiencing or inflicting physical pain. Algolagnists have a condition or perversion traditionally called algolagnia. Today it’s more commonly called algophilia.
The term comes from the Greek words algos, meaning pain, and lagneia, meaning lust. Sadists and masochists are two types of algnolagnists. Sadists derive sexual pleasure from inflicting physical pain on others, while masochists become aroused when receiving physical pain.
It’s thought that algolagnists may have a mutation in the SCN9A gene which causes their brain to misinterpret painful sensations as pleasurable ones. This mutation, if it exists, may occur whether the person is an active algolagnist, commonly called a sadist today, or a passive algolagnist, commonly called a masochist.
While algolagnia has traditionally been classified as a perversion or sexual dysfunction, algolagnists can have happy and successful relationships. Relationships between active and passive algolagnists can be particularly strong, as both parties can easily get their sexual needs met. Passive algolagnists could seek out the services of professional doms, while algolagnists may consider becoming doms to fulfil their sexual needs. Algolagnists may also find more like-minded people for romantic and platonic relationships in the BDSM community. Simply feeling like they have a place where they belong can be beneficial for algolagnists mental health.
It’s important that algolagnists play safely. While pain can be pleasurable for algolagnists, they should take care to never truly harm themselves or others. Algolagnists who want to inflict or experience severe harm should seek therapy manage their urges.
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