Sadomasochism as fetishized neuroticism

Neuroticism, in a nutshell, is a combination of negative emotionality and unstable mood. I’ll be focusing on the negative emotionality. This is probably not a terribly original line of thought.

I noticed that the negative self-talk that accompanies neuroticism sounds a lot like dirty talk, and follows a lot of the same themes. E.g. “I’m dirty/disgusting”, “I deserve/don’t deserve this”, “I’m not good enough”. Put these thoughts in someone else’s mouth and you have the beginnings of sadomasochism: “You’re a dirty, good-for-nothing slut and you’re going to get what you deserve.”

This line of thinking brought up the typical advice for getting over negative talk, like “don’t beat yourself up”. It makes sense that a sexually repressed person would tend to “beat herself up” over her unwanted sexual desires, and that this self-flagellation would form a neural pathway associating it with sexual arousal, after these are experienced in tandem several times or during a formative, imprinting sexual experience. Similarly, a sexually frustrated person would associatively sexualize the desire to engage in primitive behavior-correcting violence. Reflecting on that, I noticed that sadomasochism (like all fetishes) is a form of masturbation where another person (or thing) acts as a dramatic prop for the misdirected behavior. E.g. The woman reading 50 Shades of Gray anthropomorphizes the desire to “beat herself up” as a man who wants to beat her up.

Masochism, particularly, correlates very well with populations that are high in neuroticism where sexuality is generally a wellspring of negative emotions: women, Omega males, pathologically altruistic NW Europeans, and homosexual “bottoms”. Sadism correlates better with entitlement (men, Alpha and Gamma males, Semitics, homosexual “tops”), but there is a lot of overlap between the two populations (Ashkenazim come to mind) because entitlement can be a continual source of frustration. Hence, I think, the common observation that sadists are often also masochists, and vice versa.

The way this relates to bondage and domination is interesting. (Sadomasochism correlates strongly with bondage and domination fantasies, such that there’s an acronym, BDSM = “Bondage, Domination, Sadism, and Masochism”, for quickly referencing all of them at once.) I expect that the SM axis maps to anger/calm emotionality and the fairness/cheating moral axis, whereas the BD axis would map to disgust/worship emotionality and the strength/weakness moral axis. Both bondage and domination sexualize the transfer of one person’s locus of control to another—via physical helplessness (lizard brain) in the former case and via social pressure (monkey brain) in the latter. I’d expect both to be associated with low canonical mirror neuron activity—both a person in chains and a person in a subservient social role feel a lack of agency and powerless to control the environment or the future.

Because we’re predicting that fetishism in general is caused by synaptic cross-wiring, we’d expect to find lower rates of sexual abnormalities (sadomasochism, homosexuality, etc.) in people with higher rates of synaptic pruning. On the other hand, we’d expect to find higher rates in people with higher rates of white matter connectivity. So, contra RDOS’s rather silly speculation, I expect the higher rate of sadomasochism in people with Asperger’s can be traced to 1) higher white matter interconnectivity (i.e. more cross-wiring in general), and 2) pathological socializing leading to arrested sexual development.

Well, that was all over the place but there was some good stuff in there. Here are a couple of related posts on this subject.


Humor is the low end of sadism
Hormones and hate, sadism and masochism

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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8 Responses to Sadomasochism as fetishized neuroticism

  1. a says:

    Good post, I agree with everything you said.

    Only thing to add is that sadism [But NOT Masochism imo] can also arise in someone who has a very high need for personal power and a very strong addiction to winner effect neurochemicals.
    Of course, ppl who had little power throughout their lives and then acquire it are the most susceptible to this, but it can happen to anyone who loses the plot of what they are trying to actually gain by being in dopamine slash and burn mode.

  2. mobiuswolf says:

    No, it was pretty tight, and correct, imo. Obvious even, looking back, now you’ve said it. ;)

  3. Pingback: Addendum: sadism as self-flagellation | Aeoli Pera

  4. Pingback: Identity as idea | Aeoli Pera

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