moral masochism


Also found in: Medical.

moral masochism

[′mär·əl ′mas·ə‚kiz·əm]
(psychology)
Masochism in which there is a need for punishment arising from unconscious sexual desires and reactivation of the Oedipus complex, characterized by self-destructive acts or the provocation of punishment from authority figures.
References in periodicals archive ?
In what follows, different elements of death drive including repetition compulsion, melancholia, ambivalence, and moral masochism are explained drawing examples from Endgame.
Erotogenic masochism refers to the derivation of sexual pleasure from masochism, female masochism to the expression of womens "feminine nature," and moral masochism to "norms of behavior" (276).
In the 'Economic Problem of Masochism' (1924), Freud, working from Krafft-Ebing's early formulations, develops distinctions between different types of masochism: primary or erotogenic masochism, he suggests, can develop into moral masochism (the result of unconscious guilt) or feminine masochism (the staging of a 'characteristically female situation').
This attitude of willful submission is akin to Freud's concept of moral masochism, that is, an unconscious need for punishment "through the pursuit of pain, subjugation and humiliation at the hands of all authority or the hands of fate" (Glick and Myers 5).
Among his topics are the crucifixion of Christ as a narration of grandiose moral masochism, resurrection as the victory of the cross, from the cross to the sword in the crusades, and the Holocaust's hooked cross and Christian antisemitism.
He contends that Tolstoy, himself already "masochistically inclined" as a child (102), in the course of his life developed "unrelenting masochistic and narcissistic needs" (167) that left him particularly receptive to "the message of moral masochism in the Gospels" (79), expressed in the idea of passive nonresistance, the acceptance of "suffering for its own sake" (125).
Psychoanalytically, the suggestion is of an internalized super-ego and, correlatively, the third form of masochism that Freud posits in 'The Economic Problem of Masochism', moral masochism: a perversion in which the "ego's own masochism" "seeks punishment" from the "sadistic" super-ego or "the parental powers outside" (1991e: 424).
Freud did argue, however, in relation to moral masochism that the vicissitudes of the instincts that converted sadism into masochism regularly occurred "under the condition of civilized suppression of the instincts, which withholds a great part of the destructive instinctual components from being exercised in life" (200).
In the 1924 essay, Freud delineates a form of "moral masochism" that allows subjects to bind their death drives through guilt-spurred fantasies of punishment and martyrdom.
(17) However, masochism also has a social dimension in the form of what he termed 'moral masochism', which is identifiable in the subject's response to the super-ego, with the attendant feelings of guilt and need for punishment.
(41) Writing of a "self-shattering" that is distinct from an anecdotal "masochism to which the melancholy of the post-Oedipal superego's moral masochism is wholly alien," Bersani proposes a disintegration distinct from one which could be discussed within the terms of an already existing sovereign subject.
This form is "original" because it underlies both feminine and moral masochism. So-called feminine masochism is Freud's designation for the pleasure of occupying a passive position.