Sexual sadism comes and goes in terms of public awareness. Every few years some film or book will bring the issue back to the forefront of public discussions, but it will then soon fade into the background again. Many people express strong opinions about sexual sadism, one way or the other, even though it is a topic that is shrouded in ignorance. Here is a brief outline of sexual sadism and its causes, to help cut through the fog of myth and rumor that surrounds this subject.
What Is Sexual Sadism?
The defining feature of sexual sadism is the sexual excitement that occurs as a result of administering pain, humiliation or suffering on another person. The infliction on the other person is real and not imagined, and it may be psychological or physical or both. People who express sadism are commonly known as sadists, the name being derived from the Marquis de Sade, an 18th century aristocrat who wrote widely on the subject.
Sexual sadism is classified as a paraphilia, which are mental disorders that involve unusual sexual practices or involve inappropriate or non-consenting partners. Paraphilia’s involve recurring sexually arousing fantasies and urges, and often involve overt behaviors as well.
The acts fantasized about or performed by a sadist will usually reflect some desire for psychological or sexual domination of others. These acts will range from behaviors that are not physically harmful, although they will be humiliating to the other person, to illegal and possibly deadly behavior. These acts of domination include restraining or imprisonment using cages, ropes or chains. Other fantasies and acts relating to sadism involve paddling, whipping, spanking, burning, administering electrical shocks, beating, biting, defecating or urinating, cutting, murder, rape and mutilation.
There are no widely accepted theories that explain the origin of sadism. Some studies try to explain sexual paraphilia’s generally as resulting from biological factors. The evidence supporting this view comes from abnormal findings during neurological tests on sex offenders.
Some studies argue that paraphilia’s are the result of other problems, such as schizophrenia, brain injury or other mental disorders, since people with sexual disorders are often diagnosed with other mental disorders.
Another major theory concerning paraphilia’s comes from learning theory. It argues that paraphilia’s develop when the person is forced to suppress inappropriate sexual fantasies. Since the fantasies are not acted upon, the urge only increases. When the fantasies are finally acted upon, the person is in a state of significant arousal or distress.
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