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October 1948


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Northwestern University Medical School, and the National Foundation for Psychiatric Research.

Arch NeurPsych. 1948;60(4):402-404. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1948.02310040073007

THE PHENOMENA of masochism seem at first sight to pose a biodynamic paradox, in that self-injurious behavior patterns appear to serve the purposes neither of self preservation nor of procreation. Consequently, Freud thought it necessary to postulate a self-destructive "repetition compulsion," or "death instinct," which every organism manifests outwardly by hostility and aggression, and inwardly by "primary masochism," involuntary processes and inevitable death.1 Many writers,2 however, have pointed out that from a clinical standpoint what appears to be masochistic behavior may actually or symbolically represent a gratification of unconscious dependent, sexual or other needs and that therefore the concept of primary masochism may be both unnecessary and misleading. It is our purpose here to report certain laboratory observations in animals which may throw further light on this problem.

RATIONALE AND EXPERIMENTAL METHODS  In previous experiments3 it was shown that if an animal trained to respond to a

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