Hurts me, Johnny!

Statue of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch in Lviv in Ukraine.

He got up at my approach,
Standing he was much smaller
I said to myself: “It’s in my pocket,
This cute one is for my bed! “
It came up to my shoulder
But he was tough like everything
He followed me to my room
And I shouted go ahead my wolf!

Hurt me, johnny, johnny, johnny,
Fly me to the sky Zoum!
Hurt me, johnny, johnny, johnny,
I love the love that goes boom!

(Boris Vian, 1955 *)

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Two figures open this new note from my blog: Sacher-Masoch and Boris Vian.

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Léopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836- 1885) is a writer, playwright and historian from Galicia (now northern Poland) particularly known for his literary work marked by the infantile memory of a dominant woman who will be found under the features of many her heroines including Wanda, the emblematic mistress of Séverin in The furry Venus, still dressed in fur and wielding the whip so skillfully.

The childhood and work of Sacher-Masoch is marked with the iron of a primitive scene strong: the young Leopold, hidden in a closet, surprises his aunt Zenobia humiliating her husband whom she shamelessly cheated on. The wardrobe falls to the ground and the unmasked voyeur is scolded by the aunt who administers a real correction: “She began to whip me vigorously. I clenched my teeth with all my might; despite everything, tears came to my eyes. But it must be admitted, while writhing under the cruel blows of the beautiful woman, I felt a kind of pleasure. »Léopold confesses some time later than by reading Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, he discovers the pleasure of Jean-Jacques in receiving spankings from Mademoiselle Lambercier and that he is not alone in feeling such joy. All of his work transpires this first memory to the point where, in 1886, the psychiatrist and criminologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his emblematic Sexual Psychopathy, first sexual nosography, will borrow its name to create the concept of masochism.

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1640691316 99 Hurts me Johnny
Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric in “La Vénus à la fur” by Roman Polanski, 2013.

In 1955, Hurt me, johnny, johnny, johnny*, this song from Boris Vian, well ahead of its time, underlined the role often played by excitement born of violent tension between partners. It is obvious that the game of violence in love is only acceptable to the strict extent of mutual consent. Moreover, in sadomasochistic practices, of which the lyrics of the song are precursors, we usually speak of a “contract” between the two partners. Soft masochism like the current erotic BDSM practices quite common in free couples who have understood the interest of diversifying practices to avoid the attenuation of signals and allow the continuation of long-term sexual arousal in the couple .

At the articulation of the 19th and 20th centuries, the whip – omnipresent in Masoch – was a symbol of domination, of the master over the slave, of the parents over the children, of the mistress over the masochistic man. A very important literature on the whip exists at this time, more than 700 works from 1890 to 1940: precursor, in 1788, the Treaty of the whip** Where External aphrodisiac of Amédée Doppet, then Flagellants and flagellates of Paris by Charles Vilmaître (1902), the Flagellation Houses Doctor Fowler (probably Pierre Mac Orlan, in 1911), The reign of the whip and the boot by Bernard Vallones (1913), the Eleven Thousand Yards by Guillaume Apollinaire (1907), The Countess with the Whip (1908) and The Schoolmaster (1914) by Pierre Dumarchey (Pierre Mac Orlan) or HO story by Pauline Réage, in 1954).

During the twentieth century the use of the whip lost its luster for other types of domination and erotic suffering.

1640691317 102 Hurts me Johnny

From perversion, masochism has become paraphilia (to love differently) then today qualified as alternative erotic practices as part of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline / Domination, Submission / Sadomasochism), set of erotic practices using pain, constraint, the staging of sexual fantasies aimed at excitement between two adults most often linked by a “contract” establishing two positions: a dominant pole and a dominated pole. In a few decades, due to the evolution of mentalities and sexual liberation, these practices formerly condemned and denounced at the moral level are today – rather in a “soft” mode – the usual erotic practices of many couples, entering the panoply of conjugal erotica. These practices are also experienced by individuals, women or men, in a relationship chosen with a partner in the private space or within a club specializing in BDSM practices. This development is only possible with respect for each person’s consent, with the paradox that the limit of consent is not pain since pain is at the center of expectations.

“At the fifth meeting came the ‘confession’. At 12, he was sexually touched by his football coach. This happened twice (…) “he was paying attention to me and he was indeed the only adult to do that. With him, I had the feeling of counting, of existing. “This is how Olivia Benhamou, psychologist, psychotherapist and sex therapist, begins her reflection on masochism with the” confession “of a patient which allows her to go further in her understanding of this enigmatic mechanism which proceeds as much pain than pleasure.

There are many books on masochism but this new book by Olivia Benhamou has the merit of clarity and simplicity where the textbooks of psychiatry, psychopathology and psychoanalysis are rather reserved for specialists.

This confession “which was in fact a screen” will release the word of this man who then reveals his habit of prostitutes since the beginning of his sexuality and the discovery “for a few years of a mistress Domina who had revealed it to himself and provided him with unheard-of happiness and enjoyment at each of their sessions. The author, very honest, explains the nature of her curiosity: “The story of this man… drew my attention to the masochistic sexual practices, a field hitherto totally unknown to me… He was desperately trying to understand this sexuality who was pushing his own moral values. This is how the work was done in pairs because, when we are a therapist, we learn everything from our patients. Confidence continued: “He especially liked that she locked him in a cage, put him on all fours, naked, and made him carry a ball gag.” He also enjoyed electric shock at the nipples, pinching and twisting of the sex, penetration with unpredictable objects, hammer blows, and even the crucifixion on a St. Andrew’s cross provided for this purpose. At night, he couldn’t sleep to dream better about the scenarios of their interviews. “

The entirety of this book is made up of 16 portraits, alternating with theoretical reflections, to account for the singularity of individual paths without reducing them to a generalization that would not take into account the complexity of this very particular subject, masochism. Because it is not a perversion – the term has also been replaced by paraphilia, the fact of “loving differently” – each subject experiences with difficulty the often fragile balance between personal history and the constraints of sexual arousal, forced to take paths that sometimes even their morals condemn. Physical and psychological violence in childhood, emotional deprivation, early experience of loneliness, child sexual abuse, are factors that are very often found in masochistic patients.

To enjoy being in pain*** by Olivia Benhamou allows us to enter with simplicity into one of the mysteries of forced sexuality and to understand the solutions that the psyche has found to preserve a childhood that has assigned the subject to live his sexuality in a way often very complicated. If they enjoy being in pain, men and women compelled to masochism are the victims of a life story that has left them no other path to enjoyment.

Hurts me Johnny

* Hurt me, johnny johnny johnny, song by Boris Vian, music by Alain Goraguer, 1955; ** Treaty of the whip d’Amédée Doppet, preface by Philippe Brenot, Payot, 2011; *** To enjoy being in pain by Olivia Benhamou, La Musardine, 2021.

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Hurts me, Johnny!


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