Sexual masochism: Sexual masochism is a disorder in which individuals use sexual fantasies, urges or behaviors involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten or otherwise made to suffer in order to achieve sexual excitement and climax. These acts may be limited to verbal humiliation, or may involve being beaten, bound or otherwise abused. Masochists may act out their fantasies on themselves -- such as cutting or piercing their skin, or burning themselves -- or may seek out a partner who enjoys inflicting pain or humiliation on others (sadist). Activities with a partner include bondage, spanking, and simulated rape.
Sadomasochistic fantasies and activities are not uncommon among consenting adults. In most of these cases, however, the humiliation and abuse are acted out in fantasy. The participants are aware that the behavior is a "game," and actual pain and injury is avoided.
A potentially dangerous, sometimes fatal, masochistic activity is autoerotic partial asphyxiation, in which a person uses ropes, nooses or plastic bags to induce a state of asphyxia (interruption of breathing) at the point of orgasm. This is done to enhance orgasm, but accidental deaths sometimes occur.
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Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012