Examining Masochistic Personality Traits in Terms of Freud and Fairbairn's Theories

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Keser E.

AYNA Klinik Psikoloji Dergisi, vol.9, no.3, pp.467-488, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 9 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Journal Name: AYNA Klinik Psikoloji Dergisi
  • Journal Indexes: TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.467-488
  • TED University Affiliated: No


Masochism is classified under the heading of sexual perversions in widely used diagnosis and classification systems such as DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and ICD (International Classification of Diseases). In psychoanalytic literature, on the other hand, masochism is described more comprehensively with personality traits that work against themselves. It is conceptualized as a personality organization manifested through symptoms such as creating obstacles to oneself, triggering rejecting and aggressive behaviors in others, making unfortunate decisions, not being able to enjoy oneself, wasting efforts, suffering, having intense feelings of guilt, punishing oneself, and preparing the ground for failure. Although it is a common mental state encountered in psychotherapy settings, research on masochism is considerably limited when compared to other character organizations. Especially when the studies published in Turkey are reviewed, it is striking that there is almost no comprehensive compilation study or research on masochism. The aim of this article was to discuss the main symptoms, clinical presentation, and developmental basis of masochism from a psychoanalytic perspective. First of all, a descriptive review of the characteristics of masochism was provided, then Freud's death drive and repetition compulsion concepts and Fairbairn’s moral defense and split mechanisms were used to explaining the etiology of masochisms were used to explain the etiology of masochism. Finally, the psychotherapy process carried out with the case of Mr. A, who exhibited personality patterns that work against him, was formulated using the theoretical approaches of Freud and Fairbairn.