Updated: AUGUST 23, 2022
Reviewed by Kinkly Staff
on August 23, 2022

A masochist is an individual who takes pleasure in the experience of physical or emotional pain. Masochists often rely on this pain for sexual gratification. The "M" in BDSM stands for masochism; this type of power and pain dynamic can be a key part of some BDSM play. It is also included in the term sadomasochism, which refers to both inflicting and receiving pain between sexual partners.

For a masochist, pain can come from a variety of sources, and may be self-inflicted or administered by a dominant partner, generally a sadist. A masochist might enjoy receiving physical pain from being spanked, whipped, choked, or by wearing nipple clamps, for example. However, masochists tend to be particular in their tastes, and not all enjoy the same types of play. Masochists can also enjoy being humiliated in a variety of ways, such as being defecated or urinated upon or by being forced to play the role of an animal, a maid, or another submissive or humiliating character.

The term masochist is derived from the name of Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895,) whose novels depicted masochistic fantasies. German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft Ebing coined the term in his book "Psychopathia Sexualis," including masochism's opposite, sadism. Sigmund Freud, a contemporary of Krafft Ebing, noted that many masochists were also sadists and coined the term sadomasochism. Both men also laid the groundwork for what was considered a medical perspective for the behavior. Later, BDSM advocates would reject this work because it largely pathologizes what is often consensual sexual behavior that, while less common, is not harmful. The psychiatric profession has since adjusted its perspective. The American Psychiatric Association now clearly states that "most people with atypical sexual interests do not have psychiatric disorders."

More About Masochist

The reasons behind why masochists are aroused by pain vary. They include:

While masochists reap pleasure from pain, it is possible that sex play can be taken to an extreme that the masochist is not comfortable with. As with all forms of BDSM, conversation, careful negotiation, and full and ongoing consent are essential to ensuring that participants' physical and emotional boundaries are safeguarded. A safeword should always be determined to stop the scene at any time. Other safety measures are determined by the type of play being enjoyed. For those who are new to BDSM, it is a good idea to get educated on the type of pain they want to inflict or receive, and to learn about the safest way to do so.


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