Sadomasochism broadly refers to the receiving of pleasure—often sexual—from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation. The name originates from two authors on the subject, Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. A subset of BDSM, practitioners of sadomasochism usually seek out sexual gratification from these acts, but often seek out other forms of pleasure as well. While the terms sadist and masochist specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain (sadist), or one who enjoys receiving pain (masochist), many practitioners of sadomasochism describe themselves as at least somewhat of a switch, or someone who can receive pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain.
The acronym S&M is often used for sadomasochism, although practitioners themselves normally drop the & and use the acronym SM or S/M. Sadomasochism should be differentiated from the clinical paraphilias which require that such practices lead to clinically significant distress or impairment for a diagnosis. Similarly, sexual sadism within the context of mutual consent should not be mistaken for acts of sexual violence or aggression.
The combination of sadism and masochism, in particular the deriving of pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting or submitting to physical or emotional abuse. 1. (Psychology) the combination of sadistic and masochistic elements in one person, characterized by both aggressive and submissive periods in relationships with others 2. sexual practice in which one partner adopts a sadistic role and the other a masochistic one Abbreviation SM Compare sadism, masochism