Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 230–240

Revisiting TheBody in Pain: The Rhetoric of Modern Masochism

Original Paper


A common-sense definition of pain would state first of all that pain is bad: pain is by definition what all living creatures most fundamentally seek to avoid. And yet, anyone with an average range of experience knows that much of what is ordinarily termed pain—from stretching to massage to exercise to childbirth—is not necessarily aversive. Self-proclaimed masochists are one group who embrace and embody the complex human relationship with pain as both an undeniably material experience, but also a practice deeply embedded in culture and rhetoric. Reading through Elaine Scarry and Deleuze and Guattari, this article seeks to engage the apparent paradox that makes pain both an irresistible weapon of torture and a mechanism towards an ecstatic restructuring of subjectivity. The article posits that it is precisely the complex discourse and rhetoric of pain which allows the material experience of it to be so radically contextually determined.


Pain Rhetoric Torture Masochism Deleuze and Guattari Body without organs Online communities 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA

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