In The Economic Problem of Masochism, Freud identifies three types of masochism as erotogenic, feminine, and moral, the most important of which is moral masochism
, defined as "a sense of guilt which is mostly unconscious" (161).
The suggestion is of a residual resistance, with the incident in its entirety inviting consideration in terms of moral masochism
. As much can be regarded as implicit to Jake's acquiescence to the demands of the "parental powers" as embodied by Tommy, but it also shines a sidelight on the possible homosexual connotations of Jake's repeated insistence that he does not go down "for nobody".
(7) What is confounding about this passage is that it naturalizes the "powers" split between the super-ego and ego by introducing a distinction between "excessive moral inhibition" and moral masochism
. This distinction implies that, in the instance of excessive moral inhibition, a sadistic desire to punish is experienced by the subject as stemming from the super-ego and that it is experienced consciously as a mode of domination, which leads to severe inhibition; in contrast, in the case of moral masochism
the desire to be punished issues unconsciously from the ego, which is to say, that the subject does not recognize or cannot avow his or her enjoyment of suffering and punishment.
This need not be understood as a contradiction, indeed already in Freud's view masochism can encompass the moral masochism
which men experience more strongly than women.
That remainder cannot be assimilated, and it is viewed as "diseased" within the economy of the supremacy of the ego, or indeed, the "moral masochism
" of the superego.
From here on I will be relying on Wurmser's definition of masochism as "the need to seek suffering, pain, or humiliation in order to obtain love and respect and to sabotage one's chances and success" (1997 367), and addressing three distinct (albeit contingent) pathological manifestations: "outer masochism," "inner or moral masochism
," and "masochism covered by a sadistic-narcissistic facade." Wurmser's recent clinical investigation of "splitting," where trauma and shame affects are reduced to a tandem mechanism labeled "masochism," proposes that both trauma and shame originate in an affectively constructed masochism resulting from traumata, where one's shame affect cycle constitutes the behavioral, material "evidence" for the non-elucidated trauma.
Freud's fluid definition of masochism was further complicated by his postulation of a moral masochism
(a need for punishment, consequent to the excessive harshness of the superego) and a feminine masochism (the expression of an intrinsic feminine nature that succinctly linked passivity, submission, masochism, and femininity).
From this perspective, the zero-sum view may be interpreted as an expression of a nostalgic kind of 'moral masochism
' which still blinds many people to the controlled intensification of both sides of this tension balance in social and psychical processes.(58)
In his concept of "moral masochism
," he was also the first to allude to its use as a model for nonsexual social relations, though he never fully developed it.(2) While Freud believed that s/m took on gendered divisions for biological reasons - man's natural aggressiveness and woman's inherent passivity - he also believed that "the nucleus of the unconscious (that is to say, the repressed) is in each human being that side of him [or her] which belongs to the opposite sex," thus allowing for the possibility of female sadists and male masochists (as depicted in yon Sacher-Masoch's work).
One could suggest that in each case an erotic explanation and a moral explanation of the masochism are both offered, thus locating both of these "cases" at the interstice between feminine and moral masochism
, a moral masochism
that has a very different tonality than the one discussed by Freud.
Alerted by sightings of "money lust" and "moral masochism
" we are ready to perceive that Clemens" was alienated in the Freudian as well as in the Marxist sense of the word; he felt himself to be emotionally alone, longed for affection and approval, yet increasingly disdained his friends" (159).