Masochism may, under certain circumstances, become of medico-legal importance. The ancient law-principle—volente turn fit injuria—is no longer generally recognized by the criminal statute; the latter teaching explicitly that crimes may be committed on persons who demand their commission on themselves. Nevertheless, there are certain offences which may be conditioned by the absence, or presence, of assent on the part of the injured individual; and which cease to be crimes when the individual has given his, or her, consent. Thus, the German criminal law looks upon the murder of a man, with his own consent, as involving a much milder degree of punishment, on the part of the homicide, than if the same act were committed against the will of the victim. The Austrian law is likewise so framed; and in this country, and England, the law regarding the so-called double suicide of lovers, as well as simple self-suicide, is at present undergoing necessary and very salutary revision; while, through the more liberal admission of medical science into criminal procedure, brought about through the normal growth of popular intelligence, sexual, as well as other forms of crime dependent on pathological and psychopathic causes, are finding a more rational and intelligent treatment.
In injuries resulting from both masochism and sadism, for quite obvious reasons, recourse is seldom had to the courts. Both parties being willing participants, both are equally concerned, in case of physical injury, in the preservation of secrecy. Thus, Bluraroder tells of a man who suffered several severe wounds of the pectoral muscles, inflicted by a sadistic woman in the frenzy of her lustful feeling, during intercourse;1 but the victim, rather enjoying than resenting these evidences of amorous favor, had, of course, no thought of becoming her prosecutor.