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An inside look at s&m

These ritualized behaviors; the strange and blatant acts, some which seem to be cut right from a horror-fiction film; the rigid symbolism in dress, and manner - none of these behaviors should be taken lightly, or ever treated as a mere 'game'. For those who do possess, in the depths of their being, the predominantly Sado-Masochistic tendency cannot do without the flavor of it. And it will taint every relationship - it is very often not a choice - and often it destroys love; and thus, to its possessor, it is rarely a possession to be proud of.

The most striking peculiarity of sadomasochism is in the fact that its active and passive forms are regularly encountered together in the same person. He who experiences pleasure by causing pain to others in sexual relations is also able to experience pain as pleasure. A sadist is simultaneously a masochist, though either the active or the passive side of the perversion may be more strongly developed and thus represent his domimating sexual activity." The tendency to cause pain to the sexual object - and its opposite, the tendency to seek out and suffer pain from the sexual object, is designated sadism in its active form, and masochism in its passive.

In terms more understood in the year 2000, the sadist might now be termed the Dominant: the Master, Dominatrix, or Mistress - or simply "The Top". The masochist is called a Submissive, a Slave, or "The Bottom". 'Top' and 'Bottom' are also used as verbs, as in "I bottomed to her", or "I want him to top me!".

Another aspect of modern Sado-Masochism is the psychodramatic development of "The Switchable". That would be a person who consciously, in the sadomasochistic acting-out session, takes one side of the dynamic, then at some point "switches"' over into its psychologically "equal and opposite". So that a man might begin to act aggressively and then, either of his own will, or because compelled by his partner, "switches" to enact the submissive side of his sexuality. (We assume the more favored, aggresive role, is the one that ends the session - otherwise I cannot imagine what purpose the switching might have.) As well, you have to understand that whomever the "Switchable"' is with, will also oscillate between their own complementary sadomasochist roles. Or not ...

"Clinical observation led us ... to the view that masochism, the component instinct which is complimentary to sadism, must be regarded as a sadism that has been turned round upon the subject's own ego."

Certainly there seems to be no harm in 'dressing up' one's ordinary sex-life with 'love-toys', role-play fantasy, or a little kinky costuming. But the 'charge' you are receiving within this 'play' is the bell-note of the Imperial Power you have tapped into. A Power still Libido, but with the Heart in abeyance; a sexuality shaped not by that kindly organ, but by the Mind, and the Will-to-Power. Such Power does excite; but is violent, excoriating; of a volatile, often uncontrollable Force, it can and will subvert the love that two people share. For this is a Power of Death, very strictly conjoined to Sex.

"From the very first we recognized the presence of the sadistic component in the sexual instinct. As we know, it can make itself independent [author's emphasis] and can ... dominate an individual's entire sexual activity." The danger of an emotional 'bleed' into one's Love - a Love perhaps not yet entirely debased by a Lover calling itself Master - a ...

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