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Sexual sadism: symptoms and characteristics of this paraphilia

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During sex, it is natural for couples to experiment with certain attitudes that are exciting. For example, playing with a certain degree of control and dominance on the part of one of the members of the couple is a circumstance that both could seek.

In this article we are going to detail what sadistic attitudes consist of during the practice of sex, in addition we will examine to what extent they can be considered normal and at what point they become a paraphilia (sexual disorder). We will review the characteristics of sexual sadism, and what it implies from the point of view of psychology.

  • Related article: "Differences between Love, Sadism, Masochism and Sadomasochism"

What is sexual sadism?

We can say that a person has sadistic attitudes in their intimate life when you experience some degree of pleasure in causing physical or psychological pain to your sexual partner. As we have seen before, a certain degree of agreed and choreographed sadism is quite common during the practice of sex when it does not become a disorder.

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Taking into consideration that while we practice the sexual act, certain dominance behaviors may emerge motivated by our more irrational side, sex is often linked to a certain degree of games of roles. But there comes a point where you can no longer talk about role play, but about real violence.

In general, the person with sadistic behaviors can carry out their particular practices of domination and control (inflicting some kind of pain) with people who are aware of them and consent to them without problem, because they enjoy them. Sexually compatible couples have no problem with this circumstance. But in other cases, this agreement does not occur, or occurs under unequal conditions.

On the other hand, the disorder of sexual sadism represents a significant discomfort in the life of the subject that presents it, and also affects in an intense way the sexual partners that it can to have.

  • You may be interested: "Filias and paraphilias: definition, types and characteristics"

Symptoms and typical behaviors of sadism

Next, we are going to review a list of behaviors that are common in sexual practices and that have an intrinsic component of sadism.

1. Foul language

Foul language consists of verbalizing rude words towards our sexual partner, which can make them feel a degree of humiliation. In general, this type of language is accompanied by other sadistic behaviors of a physical nature.

2. Spanking

One of the most characteristic and common behaviors of sadism is spanking. These are not usually seen as an abuse, but as a sample of play between the couple, despite the fact that In a strict sense, they do constitute a physical aggression, however minimal it may be., beyond the moral considerations on whether in a certain context they are adequate.

3. Pull hair

Another of the most common behaviors of sadism in sex is pulling the couple's hair while having sex, or some kind of intimate contact (could be nothing more than kissing).

4. Wrap your hands around the neck

It is perhaps one of the riskiest behaviors in sadism, and it is on the verge of being considered risky. It is about encircling the neck of the couple as a strangulation while engaging in some type of sexual activity, usually penetration.

When does sadism become a problem?

These are just some of the sexual practices where sadistic behaviors can be evidenced, apart from these there is a fairly extensive range that will depend on the particular tastes of each couple.

Sexually compatible couples do not usually have any problems experiencing these activities, since they do not are sudden or treacherous actions, but respond to a prior agreement regarding the particular tastes of each of they.

Now let's see when sadistic behavior can go from being natural during sex to become a significant problem in people's lives. As we have seen so far, sadism understood as role play and prior agreement does not necessarily imply a problem for couples, unless it affects various aspects of their lives.

But if, for example, the person feels that it is difficult to control his aggressive behaviors during the practice of sexual activity, or if it always involves pain that the other person does not agree with, the sadism may be transitioning from adaptive to sexual disorder (paraphilia).

Let's see what exactly the characteristics of a sexual sadism disorder look like. The following list contains the criteria that show whether sadism is an inconvenience to the natural development of sexuality and life of people who suffer from this disorder.

1. The intensity

The intensity is decisive when going from an adaptive situation to a maladaptive one; a slight tug of the hair, a spanking with moderate force, or some obscene words, is not the same as go to beating or severe physical and psychological punishment.

2. The frequency

Frequency refers to the subject's ability to control sadistic behaviors, not at all times it is appropriate or comfortable to express sexual desire through practices of this type.

At times you can resort to other methods of a more docile nature, such as kisses, caresses, among other sexual samples that do not imply abuse. If the person is unable to put the abuse aside and only focuses on inflicting pain and humiliation, we may be in the presence of a disorder.

3. Areas affected

The degree of affectation of sexual sadism disorder goes beyond sex, being able to interfere in various aspects of people's daily life (family, work, etc.). The level of distress is so intense that prevents the subject from developing adequately in society.

4. Comorbidity with other disorders

Comorbidity refers to symptoms of more than one disorder may be evident at the same time; this is common in sexual behavior disorders. For example, when sadism becomes a disorder it can cause difficulty reaching orgasm, among other problems.

Bibliographic references:

  • Chalkley, A. J., and Powell, G. AND. (1983). The clinical description of forty-eight cases of sexual fetishism. In: British Journal of Psychiatry, 142, pp. 292–295
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