EMOTIONAL SADISM – Do we exercise it in relationships? 



To be in a meaningful relationship is the most beautiful thing. What if the relationship suffers from sadism and mental torture? Is it justified to carry on with such an alliance?


The Oxford meaning of SADISM is – ‘Getting pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, from hurting other people.’

A sociopath enjoys inflicting pain on others that is financial, emotional, psychological, and social.


MASOCHISM – A close relative of Sadism — when the person inflicts pain on himself and draws pleasure from it. Well, that’s not what i am going to talk about.


My preview isn’t talking about the much-referred and intriguing —SEXUAL SADISM either.

The so-called, intellectual breed, a doctor walked into my house with his cute three-year-old son. While sitting the child noticed a small Ant loitering carelessly on the floor. He got up and immediately squashed the innocent harmless creature under his heavy Nike boots. As I was about to stop the child from doing so, the father encouraged him to kill a few more ants. I was flabbergasted at the child’s actions—and even more annoyed at the father’s sadistic attitude.

Who says that Sadism is an inborn personality trait? I strongly feel that Sadism is indoctrinated in the young by the circumstances and the actions of the concerned people. Children do what they see. I felt like throwing the gentleman out of my house for encouraging a heinous bustle in the child’s naïve mind, that might turn him into a merciless human being or even a ruthless terrorist.

‘The day we realize that we have monsters inside us, we stop looking for them elsewhere.’

What about a spouse’s sadistic attitude towards the other spouse? It’s not always about sadism in bed. Emotional sadism is most detrimental when one partner starts smothering the other’s peace by repetitively nagging and molesting mental harmony and tranquillity.

The senior CEO of the company, Avinash Kulkarni was specifically counselled by his older sister-in-law, Geeta, to stop reacting to the irksome and instigating callous attitude of Sapna, his fidgety wife. A cool guy, Avinash was emotionally lynched by the day-to-day bustle and arguments with Sapna. Despite knowing the consequences, Sapna poked Avinash until the dormant animal in him was aroused. A chain of harsh and abusive language came out of the mentally charged man, making him aggressive and at times physical, too.

Geeta, a psychologist, understood Sapna’s SADISTIC attitude. Sapna commanded, exploited, hurt, and humiliated Avinash until he responded to her atrocities. The reaction evoked a deep-seated pleasure in Sapna’s mind and nurtured her inflated ego giving her self-assurance — ‘Oh, I can mentally control this man.’

When Avinash started non-reacting, avoiding, and walking out of the nasty situation – Sapna’s attitude improved. Her ego could no longer extract the sadistic nourishment and hence started wilting. They are now a happy couple.

Emotional sadism is the nastiest mental infliction on a person’s mind and heart. Unfortunately, it is rampant all around — be it a job, school, college, or home. The extent of mental gratification from emotional sadism is so much that no relationship, even the closest ones is spared. The sadist, at times, doesn’t even know or realize that he is fervently molesting someone. It goes in a stride, on a subconscious level.

‘Sadism is all right in its place, but it should be directed to proper ends.’

The nasty motive of a sadist is to gain complete and absolute control over the other person who in the process loses one essential quality of life’s freedom. Later on, a state arrives, like biological commensalism, where the exploiter and the exploited become contented and submissive, and neither can live without the other. The ‘harsh giver’ and the ‘docile receiver’ become equal protagonists of the story called—SADISM. No one is prepared to budge and they survive like a compromised and mundane marriage.

I know a couple who have been married for more than fifty years. Their marital journey has been an arduous and tortuous ride from the Nubra valley to Pangong lake. There are arguments, fights, ego hassles, and frequent made-up decisions to shelve the marriage. Several times the bags have been packed for a final adieu. But the marriage survived the bad weather and despite the sadism and ruthlessness, the partners still endured the alliance. They admit that despite their fights and disagreements, they can’t live without each other.

Mutual sadism is accepted well.

Sadism is not like a Covid affliction that hits a person unexpectedly. If we go into the juvenile lanes of the sadist’s past, we will find its origin in his infantile fantasies. He is searching for a way out of a nasty and hopeless situation.


Making someone feel guilty for an unintentional slipup is another shade of sadism. The sadist manipulates situations that the other person is unable to achieve because of his or her inaccessibility or physical remoteness and then the sadist ruthlessly makes the person feel guilty because of the in-accomplishment. This kind of action is not uncommon.

Love is the arena where a myriad of tales of sadistic battles and act-plays are staged. Either of the partners has birth-right access to the other’s psyche and emotional insight which makes him a monkey. The sufferer runs around making a hell of a living trying to quench the ego satiety of the sadist.

No wonder – ‘Man’s excessive love makes a woman his weakness . . . While a woman’s excessive love makes a man her strength.’ It is a beautiful thought but it is not immune to sadism that may seep in like a virulent infection and ruin the alliance for good.

“Behaving like a Sadist is gruesome – tolerating the wrath of a sadist is awful and emotionally ghastly.”



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  1. Dr Ashok Kumar Ojha says:

    The blog ‘Emotional sadism…Do we excercise it in relationship…has been illustratively explained citing anecdotes.No dout an emotional sadism is not at all required at any moment of life.. Nevertheless, it does happen happen and may happen with many.There are people who derives sadistic pleasure out of tormenting ot precisely torturing some one.And if he or she happens to be near and dear one at any point of time, the sadistic pleasure is ecstatic. It is their ego which is hurt and it is fulfilled only by when sadistic pleasure is inflicted on the loved ones..It crops up all due on some past anecdote or verbal abuse.Gradually it takes over as an act of revenge and only revenge.This can happen with couples, friends, peers or relatives.. An emotional sadism not necessarily tantamount to physical assault.It can be due to emotional blackmail also…If your friend is jealous of you with studies , he can inflict sadism by robbing of you by not sharing important information related to competition, exams, career growth etc etc. Emotional sadism, precisely, is culmination of a paramount displeasure and hate against some one. It always beneficial to nip in the bud and the hate, angerness or brewing jealousy should be sorted out at the first instance and must have guts to spell out his anger, hate or jealousy instead of hiding it,that may turn into revenge later..
    Beautiful Anuj…

    1. Dr. Anuj says:

      You have very correctly pointed out jealousy amongst friends that leads to sadism and an urge to pull down the other person. We experienced this attitude throughout school and also in professional colleges. If you see it, you will find sadism all around. We also do it at times, not realizing what we are committing. But sure enough, we can curb this in our family through communication and assurance. If not controlled, sadism becomes a personality trait. Then it’s too late to erase the menace.
      Thanks a lot for your valuable input.

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