Sadism describes the experience of taking pleasure in inflicting pain, humiliation, degradation, cruelty, or watching others inflict these behaviors on someone else. People who take pleasure from these acts are known as sadists. Often this pleasure is sexual in nature although this isn’t always the case.
The term sadism comes from the name of the French writer Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), a French nobleman and writer whose fiction portrayed sexual fantasies, often of a violent nature. In his personal life, he also engaged in sadism, often with sex workers and in many cases without consent. German-born psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing coined the term in his landmark work, "Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study." He also coined the term's opposite, masochism.
In the BDSM community, the consensual use of sadomasochistic practices are common. For submissives, allowing someone else to control their sexual pleasure can be a turn on, while some measure of pain is said to heighten sensation, excitement and, therefore, sexual arousal. For the dominant in the situation, being in control of another's person pleasure - and to some extent their bodies and minds - is also a stimulating part of the game. In BDSM, the consent and comfort of both partners tends to be valued, and play often starts with the establishments of limits and safewords to ensure both participants' safety and integrity.