Today’s word of the day masochism is for all those who have been reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Masochism as a word originated from Sacher-Masoch who wrote in the late nineteenth century.
The man who introduced sex to the world
But first to the Austrian Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing – the man who introduced sexology to the world. In 1886, he published what has become the classic on the subject – Psychopathia Sexualis. The translation of his book from German into English in 1892 by the American professor of neurology C. G. Chaddock. In the translated book subtitled New research in the area of Psychopathology of Sex, a host of words were used in English for the first time. These include bisexuality, homosexual, heterosexual, exhibitionism, necrophilia, sadist and the word of today masochism.
The origin of masochism
The definition given in Psychopathia Sexualis is “a peculiar perversion” with an individual wanting to be “completely and unconditionally subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex; of being treated by this person as by a master,—humiliated and abused”. The role model was Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, also an Austrian, who lived out his fantasies of masochism and then wrote about them in his most famous work called Venus in Furs. There he describes travelling in third class, while his mistress travelled first in fur coats, making him her slave as she saw fit.