In addition to the sexual pleasure or excitement derived from receiving pain and humiliation, an individual with sexual masochism often experiences significant impairment or distress in functioning due to masochistic behaviors or fantasies.
With regard to actual masochistic behavior, the person may be receiving the pain, suffering, or humiliation at the hands of another person. This partner may have a diagnosis of sexual sadism but this is not necessarily the case. Such behavior involving a partner is sometimes referred to as sadomasochism.
Masochistic acts include being physically restrained through the use of handcuffs, cages, chains, and ropes. Other acts and fantasies related to sexual masochism include receiving punishment or pain by means of paddling, spanking, whipping, burning, beating, electrical shocks, cutting, rape, and mutilation. Psychological humiliation and degradation can also be involved.
Masochistic behavior can also occur in the context of a role-playing fantasy. For example, a sadist can play the role of teacher or master and a masochist can play the role of student or slave.
The person with sexual masochism may also be inflicting the pain or suffering on himself or herself. This can be done through self-mutilation, cutting, or burning.
The masochistic acts experienced or fantasized by the person sometimes reflect a sexual or psychological submission on the part of the masochist. These acts can range from relatively safe behaviors to very physically and psychologically dangerous behavior.