emotional psychological masochism

Beware These 10 Signs of Emotional Masochism

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Disclaimer: By publishing this post, I dare not imply that psychological masochism is a conscious choice.

I also don’t claim it is anybody’s fault. Emotional masochism could be a part of human character with roots that predate the normal person’s conscious awareness.

In my experience, growing conscious of emotionally masochistic tendencies for what they are is a rare occurrence, despite the fact that such patterns seem to be universal. Let us begin with specifying masochism, then proceed into the psychological twist so a lot of us kindly put on it.

What is a masochist? 

A masochist is somebody who engages in masochism. Many masochists consider themselves as such publicly. {They are aware of what they do and why. Emotional masochists, however, seldom know what they do or why they do it. The pain and frustration entailed — yet great or little — is avoidable. However, we seldom avoid such chances, do we?

Recognizing regular psychological masochism is among the more helpful things we could do. Learning how and why we do it so we may recognize it is a vital step toward health.

How can you possibly find any form of pleasure in pain?

You have likely seen documentaries or films that contain drastically religious devotees that self-flagellate. The devout one bullwhips himself to shreds, basking in the psychological high that stems from the bodily pain.

And you think, “Holy cow, that is over the top!”

Imagine if, however, since we scorn the masochist, it’s concurrently occurring right under our nose inside our mind and body? And what if we’re scorning masochism in other people because we do not wish to see self-flagellating trends in ourselves?

This could be especially applicable to psychological masochism, which will be described as locating subconscious pleasure in psychological negativity.

The pleasure principle — that the universal law of pain and pleasure — holds that individuals will always find pleasure and avoid pain.

In the end, none of the aforementioned is gratifying, right?

Not so fast.

Here are 10 signs of emotional masochism that are more common than you might realize.

Do you ever….

  1. Start arguments for no clear reason?
  2. Engorge yourself with food till it hurts?
  3. Quit goals when things begin to go well?
  4. Run from happy relationships?
  5. Mysteriously fail at jobs which have potential?
  6. End friendships due to trivial matters?
  7. Tolerate people who use you?
  8. Hang around people who demean you?
  9. Obsess over negative feelings?
  10. Criticize yourself?

It is safe to say – all else being equal – that every one of those examples causes some type of emotional pain. We’ve got choices. However, we commonly elect for the most debilitating one.


Avoidable self-sabotage such as this could be called a psychological attachment. This phrasing implies that, though we purposely despise the angst, we’re somehow connected to it. It has consistently been part of our experience and we cannot envision any other way of being.

Acknowledging these attachments, because they’re often unconscious, is an essential first step in healing. For much more on how such attachments lead directly to self-sabotage, see this informative and free video.

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