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The Fate Of Aggression In Maso‐Masochistic Relationships

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly

Published online on


This paper examines an underexplored dimension of interpersonal relating: the relationship formed between two individuals who relate to each other in masochistic ways. The common assumption is that a sadist forms an alliance with a masochist, and that a balance is struck between an individual who is “one up” and another who is “one down.” However, relationships are frequently established between two people who both experience themselves as chronically “one down,” each playing victim to the other's aggression. This paper explores disavowed aggression in this type of couple, the implications of this disavowal for treatment, and the sadomasochistic reverberations within the therapist.