Sadism: Psychoanalytic Developmental Perspectives is founded on the premise that paying close attention to what is happening in our internal world can help us understand the rise of sadism in the world of popular culture. Voyeuristic sadism as a form of entertainment appears to be on the rise, an increase corresponding with an upsurge in public appetite for sadomasochism as a recreational activity. This book acts as a forum in which psychotherapists present psychoanalytic perspectives on the phenomenon of sadomasochism at different stages of the human lifecycle: in childhood, adolescence, adulthood and in later life, and consider its developmental roots.
Over the last half-century, through books, movies, computerized video games and drama, the stories we are being sold as representing aspects of contemporary culture market two commodities: sadism and victory. How might we understand this, and can psychoanalysis help us make meaning of this aspect of human relating?
"In tracing the phenomenon of sadomasochism across the lifespan, from childhood to old age, this important book illuminates an aspect of the human psyche that is much in need of rigorous exploration and understanding. Focusing on the developmental roots of sadomasochistic relating, the chapters explore the dynamics of sadism in individuals, couples and families. The different authors’ contributions cohere around a depth psychological perspective and an engaging clinical focus, making this a book that will be invaluable for clinicians and lay readers alike, and which will remain a significant resource for the field for years to come."-Andrew Balfour, Chief Executive, Tavistock Relationships, London.
"This terrific book offers the most thorough look at sadism throughout the life cycle that I know of. In this age in which the media popularizes sadism and perversion, our field needs solid, thoughtful examinations of the clinical situations that present to us in order to counter the perverse celebration of emotional and sexual cruelty. This is the book we must turn to in order to sharpen our senses and enlarge our clinical thinking."-David E. Scharff, MD. Former Director, International Psychotherapy Institute, Washington, DC. USA; Chair, International Psychoanalytic Association’s Committee on Family and Couple Psychoanalysis.
"This collection of papers interrogates the often used and regularly misunderstood concept of sadism. Employing a psychoanalytic and developmental perspective, the interpersonal nature of sadism, with its roots in the anxieties and vulnerabilities of dependence, is emphasised. As a result, this understanding informs a more nuanced approach to considering that sometimes the initially disturbing enactments may be driven by developmental urges rather than simply being destructive forces."-Stanley Ruszczynski, Clinical Director (1995-2016) and Consultant Adult Psychotherapist, Portman Clinic, London.
"Family lawyers will encounter sadism in their work with separating and divorcing clients. This book draws out the relational and family aspect of sadism and is composed of a remarkable collection of contributions by leading mental health professionals. It is relevant not just for psychotherapists but makes a fascinating read for family lawyers too, enabling us to think about how sadism can manifest in our professional lives; helping us cater for its presence, understanding our clients and their spouses and enabling us to seek expert help where needed."-Gillian Bishop, Director, Family Law in Partnership Ltd, London.