What Do You Call Someone Who Likes Pain? What Are The Personality Traits Related To This?

The term ‘masochist’ is used for a person who enjoys inflicting pain on him/her. Such people seem to derive pleasure in pain. They enjoy hurting themselves. Follow this article to know more about what do you call someone who likes pain and what are the personality traits related to this.

An Austrian writer from the nineteenth century named Leopold von Sacher-Masoch described a sense of gratification that he received from his own humiliation and pain. Masochists are different from sadists. The latter derive pleasure in inflicting on others while a masochist enjoys inflicting pain on their own selves. These people enjoy receiving punishment and degradation.

This trait is popularly linked to BDSM. Sexual masochists like pain as a part of sexual activities. This kink could be empowering and healthy up to a certain extent. Masochism comes in some different, less healthy types, which manifest in people’s professional and personal lives. A psychological masochist would look for ways of tormenting themselves in their mundane lives.

Are you tough on yourself at times? Do you often exhaust yourself with a heavy workload? Such traits fall under typical masochistic behaviors in one’s personality. Masochistic doesn’t always mean sexual sadomasochism. When it comes to sexual sadomasochism, one is dominant while the other is submissive. From a psychological viewpoint, a masochist endures self-defeating traits, which they often do by themselves to themselves. To put it simply, such people inflict humiliation and pain on themselves.

Follow this article to know more about what you call someone who likes pain and what are the personality traits related to this.

What do you call someone who likes pain?

Masochism refers to deriving pleasure from experiencing pain, while sadism involves finding pleasure in inflicting pain on others. This psychosexual disorder is named after Chevalier Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, an Austrian writer who extensively described his enjoyment of being beaten and dominated.

The level of pain in masochistic practices can range from ritual humiliation to severe physical abuse, typically with the masochist maintaining some level of control and stopping the activity before serious harm occurs. While pain can cause sexual arousal in many people, for the masochist, it becomes the primary focus of sexual activity.

In broader social contexts, masochism can refer to seeking and enjoying situations involving humiliation or abuse. As an isolated trait, masochism is relatively uncommon; more often, individuals may engage in both masochistic and sadistic behaviors, alternating between deriving pleasure from experiencing pain themselves and inflicting pain on others.

Psychologically, masochism is understood as deriving satisfaction, fulfillment, or pleasure from pain, akin to how many people seek pleasure. Psychologists have studied masochism for over a century, noting its association with sexual gratification through pain. Thus, a masochist is defined as someone who finds sexual pleasure in experiencing pain.

What are the different types of masochism?

Masochism means deriving pleasure from the experience of pain and humiliation. Freud described the following types of masochism:

  • Sexual masochism
  • Feminine masochism
  • Moral masochism
  • Adaptive masochism
  • Emotional masochism

Sexual masochism:

Sexual masochism refers to the erotic practices of those who seek orgasm through torment and humiliation. Sexual excitement is found in physical suffering. Being on the receiving end of pain and cruelty includes being bound, beaten, or otherwise made to suffer physical harm of some degree. Masochism is habitually found accompanied by sadism in the same individual; however, generally, one orientation represents a predominant sexual proclivity.

Feminine masochism:

“Feminine masochism” means deriving pleasure from psychological suffering, the pain inflicted by oneself or others. In his 1932 essay “Femininity,” Freud connects masochistic pleasure with those who embody the “feminine” personality traits traditionally associated with women, such as passivity and dependence. Yet, he did not claim women are intrinsically masochistic, which is a common misconstrual of his ideas.

Feminine masochism is common in both men and women. Karen Horney, too, rejected the notion of women’s innate masochism. Its root is not biological but an aspect of derailed development and the result of social and cultural norms.

Yet, there is a lingering myth about women’s masochism that has become part of the popular culture so that many women internalize this belief. Women in frustrating jobs where they are paid less than men, or those in painful relationships or exhausted by meeting the needs of children as well as spouses, come to believe that somehow they are to blame.

Moral masochism:

This is the second form of desexualized masochism. Freud coined the term “moral masochism” in 1924, describing a state of mind arising from an unconscious sense of guilt and satisfaction by means of suffering that assuages such guilt feelings.

Moral masochists take pleasure in being punished or tormented by ideas, fate, or God, and the humiliation they feel in their lives can substitute for sexual activity, as with some religious cults or martyrdom, or practices of asceticism martyrdom, or religious flagellation. Self-punishment is intended to distract or relieve feelings of guilt and other painful emotional states.

The idea is that people seek suffering to reduce feelings of guilt, which are usually unconscious. Yet moral masochism is not necessarily pathological. Praise-worthy expressions of this form of masochism can be seen when people risk their safety, even lives, in the service of others or the greater social good.

Adaptive masochism:

“Adaptive masochism” is discussed by contemporary French clinician Marilia Aisenstein, who claims masochism “has gotten bad press.” She aims to redeem it by elaborating a positive form of masochism in early infant development that she calls “primary erotogenic masochism.” This is how she describes it.

At times, in early infant development, the child is faced with powerful frustrations of hunger and aloneness. This type of masochism involves adaptation and the gradual ability of an infant to tolerate the tension that goes with delayed gratification. This requires being passive in such moments of waiting for something one wants.

According to Aisenstein, this early stage of positive masochism “is what helps us to endure disappointments, ruptures, and also illnesses and pain.” She sees masochism as the “guardian of life,” a descriptor used by Benno Rosenberg. This masochism, in earliest life, allows one to suffer the displeasure of waiting for something worthier than short-term comfort.

Aisenstein claims all the above masochistic behaviors (sexual, feminine, moral) are a sign that this earliest state of primary masochism had not been lived through fully. In other words, there has been a failure in constructing positive masochism, one that nurtures the ability to tolerate internal tension and passivity.

Emotional masochist:

People who are ’emotional masochists’ tend to feel most comfortable in painful relationships. Sometimes it is because they don’t think they deserve any better and other times it is because of a history of trauma, they think that is all they deserve. They frequently go back to people who caused them emotional pain and have a difficult time making boundaries with hurtful people in their life.

What are the signs that you are an emotional masochist?

When you hear “masochist” your mind might immediately go to whips and chains, but emotional masochism is different from sexual masochism. While there can be some overlap between emotional masochism and sexual masochism, the two are very separate issues, not to be confused. If you seek out toxic, intense relationships with a lot of ups and downs, then following are the signs that you are an emotional masochist.

  • You go back to the same person who hurt you
  • You spend a lot of time with criticism
  • You thrive on drama
  • You are drawn to toxic people
  • You end healthy relationships
  • You start fights to ignite passion
  • You seek out approval from people
  • You let people walk all over you
  • You are comfortable with unhappy people
  • You sabotage your own happiness

You go back to the same person who hurt you:

Despite the warning signs, hurtful patterns, or obvious character issues, you return to the same partner who hurt you over and over again. Sometimes this occurs because you don’t think you deserve better. Other times you might be trying to play out old childhood wounds in the current time. Either way, you get hurt over and over again by the same person.

You spend a lot of time with criticism:

Spending a lot of time talking to yourself in negative and critical ways is another sign of this form of masochism. Your inner dialogue is consistently negative and you don’t fight it. Whether it’s because you have internalized an abusive parent, mean coach, or cruel partner, you spend a lot of time talking to yourself in cruel ways. If this is you, it is particularly important that you get therapy to break these patterns. Don’t wait until you think you deserve it or it will be easy. Just take steps to get the help you need.

You thrive on drama:

When there isn’t any drama in your life, you create it — sometimes intentionally and other times unconsciously. You may find that you feel dead inside when there is not some kind of chaos or conflict to keep your adrenaline going. You are unaware of how that negative energy impacts you and your life.

You are drawn to toxic people:

You find yourself surrounded by mean or abusive friends, family, or romantic partners. You are the common denominator. Perhaps this feels familiar and comfortable based on something from your past. Or maybe your self-esteem is so bad that you think that is all you deserve. Keep in mind that who we surround ourselves with is ultimately our own choice.

You end healthy relationships:

If you’re an emotional masochist, healthy relationships bore you, so you end them. It’s so unfamiliar and lacks the ups and downs that you are used to. You may not even realize that you’re ending things because they’re healthy. Closeness makes you uncomfortable so you get out.

You start fights to ignite passion:

It’s hard for you to know someone cares if they don’t fight with you. The highs and lows of fighting enable you to have passionate sex and feel close to your partner. Angry sex, break-up sex, and fight sex are way more comfortable for you than making love.

You seek out approval from people:

You find yourself compelled to win approval from people who resist giving it to you. You pursue people like this and cause yourself pain. You also have a hard time letting go and accepting someone who won’t give you the validation you are hungry for.

You let people walk all over you:

You don’t make boundaries. You have a pattern of allowing people to take advantage of you. You have a tendency to be a people pleaser, regardless of whether or not you respect the people you are trying to please.

You are comfortable with unhappy people:

That old saying that misery loves company is your motto. You gravitate to people who are unhappy and spend a lot of time looking at the negative. This is different from being there for a friend who’s going through a crisis, it’s a choice to surround yourself with people who always see themselves as victims.

You sabotage your own happiness:

The last tell-tale sign of an emotional masochist? You make choices that lead to your own demise or failures. You tend to live in a repetitive loop of self-defeat.

If all of this sounds like you, you probably have some unresolved issues from your childhood that you need to work through so you can better understand that you deserve to be happy and are worthy of a great support system.

What are the personality traits related to this?

Following are the personality traits that you are most likely to find in someone who is masochist:

  • They cannot say NO
  • They are very invested to push themselves to be “Good”
  • Masochists are always up for rescuing
  • They resist getting compliments
  • Masochists are attracted to narcissists
  • They cannot stand up for themselves
  • Obsessed with perfectionism

They cannot say NO:

The key sign of someone being a masochist is their inability to refuse. They think saying no would make them sound selfish or arrogant. They need to realize that saying no is not unkind or selfish. In fact, it is a radical act of self-care. It is a way of communicating that you cannot say yes without causing metaphorical or literal harm to yourself.

If you are unsure of saying yes or no, take a deep breath and pause. Keep a check on your motivations and allow yourself to be gentle to yourself. Don’t forget, “no” is a complete sentence in itself, and you can always say it with utter tenderness and compassion.

They are invested to push themselves to be “Good”:

Masochistic people are very particular about their morning yoga session; they try to work out every day, even if they are sick, and if they miss it, they feel terrible. They are very strict with their diets, even on trips and birthdays. They beat themselves up when they drink too much, gain a few extra pounds, or miss going to the gym for two consecutive days.

They can turn into self-berating exercise tyrants in no time. While being disciplined and intentional is good, our mistakes, triumphs, eccentricities, and quirks make us imperfectly perfect. We need to be a little easy on ourselves from time to time.

Masochists are always up for rescuing:

Be it fellow humans, animals, or even the planet, and masochists are always up for saving everyone. The perpetrator, the martyr, and the victim form the three pillars of a toxic psychological cycle which many of us feed into. All you need to do to unhook yourself from this pattern is simply opting out.

Whenever you are asked for a favor, make sure you check your motivations at first. If you feel you are unworthy or are in a constant fear of hurting someone, and that makes you overcompensate, go inward. Rescue yourself at first by soothing the part within you which craves to rescue.

They resist getting compliments:

Masochistic people often resist getting blessings and compliments when someone tries to give them. Many of us, especially those with the healer archetype, feel uncomfortable when many compliments are showered on them. For turning this around, one must start practicing “bench pressing” their receiving muscles.

Similar to the biceps, our receiving muscles also need exercise. Go for a “beauty bath” by treating yourself with beauty in every form- aromatherapy oils, beautiful music, heartwarming poetry, plants, and a symphony. Don’t be scared of overdoing it. Practice absorbing all the beauty and not resisting it. All of us deserve compliments and blessings.

Masochists are attracted to narcissists:

Narcissists can be compelling, magnetic, charismatic, as well as hard to avoid. However, if you keep falling prey to their trap, again and again, you are either an echo or a masochist. Save yourself the disappointment and heartbreak by breaking the pattern.

They cannot stand up for themselves:

It is all good to be accommodating, compassionate, and kind. However, a problem arises when you start letting yourself be a doormat. You can be yielding and soft while being strong and fierce at the same time. You can be multifaceted and embrace every side of yours. This includes even that side that will not be misused or taken advantage of. By doing this, you are sure to transform your masochism into self-respect and self-love.

Obsessed with perfectionism:

Life is chaotic and messy. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the fear of being portrayed as imperfect. It is like fascism in one’s soul. Take a deep breath and allow your soul to be imperfect. Your soul needs room for experimenting, screwing up, learning the hard way before finally rising above and beyond all this.

What is the difference between sadism and masochism?

Following are some of the main differences between sadism and masochism.


Masochism Sadism
Masochism refers to the enjoyment of experiencing pain. Sadism refers to the enjoyment of inflicting pain on someone else.
Such individuals indulge in self-destructive patterns of behavior, as if they were seeking to hurt or punish themselves. Such an individual would take pleasure in yelling at a person then watching them being frightened but obedient, knowing it is about to be beaten.
Masochism is the concept that defines the pleasure one finds in getting their own self-hurt. Sadism is the concept that deals with finding pleasure in punishing or giving pain to others.
Deriving (especially sexual) pleasure from abuse, being punished, or dominated. Delighting in or feeling pleasure from the pain or humiliation of others.
A Masochistic is a person who feels or finds pleasure in punishments. We can also say that a person who feels good to have pain and enjoys being hurt or harmed. A sadistic person finds relaxation and amusement scolding others, usually their sexual partners.

How can you identify whether or not you are a masochist?

Masochists are often too hard on themselves for no reason. Have a look at some traits of a masochistic person.

  • You like narcissistic people
  • You can’t say no
  • You don’t like it when everything is going good
  • You judge your emotions a lot
  • You never stand up for yourself

You like narcissistic people:

Narcissists are people who are obsessed with themselves. They cannot think beyond themselves. In spite of their shortcomings, you feel attracted to them and are always falling for them.

You can’t say no:

The easiest way to give pain to yourself is by saying yes to things you do not want to do. If you say yes to people just to please them and be in their good books, then rethink your priorities and develop a habit to say no when needed.

You don’t like it when everything is going good:

There are times when everything is going right, be it at work or in your personal life, and you somehow feel uneasy about it. Stop this habit of over analyzing things and learn to enjoy the simple pleasures of life without looking for any sort of catch in them.

You judge your emotions a lot:

At times, you are bound to feel sad, lonely, depressed or scared. You might judge yourself for experiencing such negative emotions and might try to suppress them. What you should do be doing is addressing and accepting them instead of suppressing them

You never stand up for yourself:

Sure, you want to be liked by people and are a compassionate and empathetic person. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be a doormat and put your needs on the backburner. Maintain a balance between being helpful and being fierce to turn your masochism into self-love.

How can you help someone cope with masochistic behavior?

Discussed below are some of the ways through which you can help some who have a masochistic personality.

  • Be patient. Above all, patience is the virtue you need to be with a masochistic partner. Don’t sigh or tell them off for their self-defeating behaviors.
  • Don’t echo the parents’ behavior. By forcing your partner to take your point of view or do as you say. You’ll be falling into old patterns that will potentially reinforce your partner’s masochism.
  • Don’t give into rage. You may begin to feel persecutory towards your partner when they are shrugging their shoulders and giving up on something again. An angry reaction will make them shrink into themselves and they may not come out for days.
  • Try to understand. Not always easy, but knowing the roots of their personality traits may help you develop more empathy towards them.
  • Don’t threaten to leave. A masochist fears abandonment more than anything. If they aren’t doing what you want them to do then allow them to express or act in that way. Support them in it.
  • Encourage open communication. There was never room in a masochist’s early life to have an opinion of their own. Speaking their truth was unheard of. A building block of your relationship is to encourage them to start to say what they truly feel and think – and know that they can survive that experience without punishment or repercussions.


The origins of masochism trace back to early childhood, typically when a toddler begins asserting independence. If a parent is domineering or overly controlling, they may turn these early signs of independence into a power struggle. In such dynamics, the parent’s insistence on having things their way leaves the child with no choice but to yield. Submission becomes a survival strategy for the child, even if inwardly they may feel resentment and injustice.

As the child grows older, this pattern can become internalized. Even after the direct influence of controlling parents diminishes, individuals may continue to treat themselves with the same lack of respect and contempt they experienced in childhood. This internalization can perpetuate a cycle of self-deprecation and diminished self-worth.