There are groups of human feeling which frequently run counter to human reason, judgment and impulse, being in the main hereditary enemies; but it seems strange that a fact of such deep psychic importance as that under consideration, eluding the research of the professed psychologist, should have been first revealed in the pages of two novelists. Sadism takes its name from the peculiar form of sexual perversion first laid bare in the romances of De Sade; and masochism from the corresponding perversion, of a passive nature, displayed in those of Sacher-Masoch.
The definition of Krafft-Ebing, that sadism is "the impulse to cruel and violent treatment of the opposite sex, and the coloring of the idea of such acts with lustful feelings,"' fails of absolute correctness, for the very same reason as that for which I have heretofore called Nero a sadist—that the sadistic impulse may have either Bex for its object. Fere"s definition is better—"the need of association of violence and cruelty with sexual enjoyment, such violence or cruelty not being necessarily exerted by the person, himself, who seeks sexual pleasure in this association;"1 and Garnier's is best of all, since it recognizes what I have heretofore contended for—a principle of normality in these perversions—and comprises, at the same time, every point covered by the others. "Pathologicalsadism," he writes, thus inviting the inference of a physiological sadism, " is an impulsive and obsessing sexual perversion, characterized by a close connection between suffering inflicted, or mentally represented, and the sexual orgasm; without this necessary and sufficing condition, frigidity usually remaining absolute."1
In attempting to define sadism, Havelock Ellis is led to the conclusion, by others I believe overlooked, that it is not a perversion due to excessive masculinity; a conclusion well corroborated not only by the fact that strong men are more apt to be tender than cruel, and the most cruel men to be feminine in character, but the equally remarkable fact that the skull of De Sade, himself, according to the phrenologist who examined it, was so small and well formed that "one would take it at first for a woman's."
Indeed, the sadistic impulse, in my opinion, is quite as common in women as in men. I had a little daughter, since deceased, who possessed a small Chinese poodle, upon which she lavished the entire wealth of a peculiarly affectionate nature; and whipping that poodle, dashing cold water upon it, and treading upon its tail, were pastimes which not only afforded her the very keenest enjoyment, but were indubitably the concomitants of an equally strong affection, and few parents will be found who have not observed similar manifestations of active cruelty in their children.
That women can be gentle as kittens, or cruel as tigers, is a proverb founded on absolute fact; while it is only necessary to read the literature of Goethe, Heine, Platen, Hamerling, Byron and other authors, to recognize, in the affectionate submission of the heroine to the exactions and cruelty of a tyrannical lover, that masochistic feeling which is a part of almost every woman's nature.
It is impossible to treat sadism, I repeat, apart from masochism, one being complementary to the other The former represents the active r61e of absolute domination, and the latter, as Krafft-Ebing remarks, "a peculiar perversion of the psychical vita sexualis in which the individual affected, in sexual feeling and thought, is controlled by the idea of being completely subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex; and of being treated by this person as by a master, and humiliated and abused."1