What Do You Call a Person Who Enjoys Inflicting Pain? Understanding the Mind of a Sadist

Have you ever wondered what term to use for someone who enjoys causing pain? You’re not alone. It’s a question that has crossed the minds of many, albeit with different levels of curiosity and concern. Some assume that the answer is simply ‘sadist,’ while others believe that there’s a more nuanced way to describe this behavior. Whatever your thoughts are, let’s delve into this topic and see what we can learn.

From a linguistic perspective, the term ‘sadist’ is derived from Marquis de Sade, a French nobleman who gained notoriety for his sexually explicit and violent literature. He was known for glorifying acts of cruelty and sadism, which eventually led to the coining of the term. However, modern psychology considers ‘sadism’ to be a personality disorder characterized by deriving pleasure from the suffering of others. So, while the word ‘sadist’ may be appropriate in certain contexts, it’s not a fully accurate depiction of someone who enjoys inflicting pain.

So, what other words can we use to describe this behavior? ‘Masochist’ is often used to describe someone who enjoys receiving pain, whereas ‘algophile’ is a term that describes someone who enjoys giving pain. However, it’s worth noting that most instances of inflicting pain are not consensual or done with mutual agreement. Such behavior is not only problematic but can also be illegal. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain or abuse, seek help immediately.


Sadism is a term used to describe a person who derives pleasure from inflicting physical or emotional pain on others. It is named after the Marquis de Sade, a French aristocrat who was notorious for his cruel sexual practices and writings. The term sadism is often used synonymously with the term masochism, which refers to the enjoyment of receiving pain rather than giving it.

  • Sadism is a personality trait that can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from physical aggression to emotional manipulation.
  • Studies have shown that individuals who score high on measures of sadism also tend to be narcissistic and have low empathy for others.
  • Sadism is often viewed as a pathological behavior, and individuals who exhibit sadistic tendencies may be more likely to engage in criminal behavior or engage in abusive relationships.

While sadism is often associated with sexual practices, it is important to note that not all individuals who enjoy BDSM or other forms of kink are sadistic. In these contexts, all actions are consensual and occur within established boundaries and rules. It is only when an individual derives pleasure from causing non-consensual harm or pain that it becomes problematic.

Below is a table summarizing some common behaviors associated with sadism:

Behavior Description
Physical aggression Pushing, hitting, or other forms of physical violence
Humiliation Intentionally embarrassing or belittling someone in public or private
Manipulation Using lies or deception to control or exploit others
Social sabotage Spreading rumors or otherwise interfering with someone’s social or professional life

It is important to recognize that sadistic behavior is not justifiable and can have serious consequences for the victim and the perpetrator. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, seek help immediately.


Masochism refers to a sexual disorder where an individual derives pleasure from experiencing physical pain or humiliation.

  • It is often viewed as a form of deviant behavior by society as it challenges traditional sexual norms and taboos.
  • However, it is important to note that masochism is not classified as a mental disorder in the DSM-V.
  • It is considered a consensual sexual activity between adults, as long as it is practiced safely and with mutual consent.

Individuals who engage in masochistic behavior may seek out a variety of stimuli to experience pain. These stimuli can include:

  • Bondage and restraint
  • Impact play (spanking, slapping, flogging)
  • Humiliation and degradation

It is important to note that engaging in masochistic behavior can carry risks, such as physical injury, psychological trauma, and the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Pros of masochism Cons of masochism
-It can arouse intense pleasure
-It can deepen intimacy and trust between partners
-It can offer a way to explore and express one’s sexuality more fully
-It can pose physical risks and cause physical harm
-It can cause psychological trauma
-It can strain relationships and cause judgment and rejection by society

Individuals who are interested in exploring masochistic behavior should do so only with trusted partners, practice safe sex, and communicate openly about their boundaries, desires, and limitations.


Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy, remorse, and guilt. People with psychopathy tend to be impulsive, callous, and manipulative. They often engage in criminal behavior and have a disregard for the rights of others. Psychopathy is also known as sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder.

  • Individuals with psychopathy often enjoy inflicting pain on others and may engage in violent or sadistic behavior.
  • They may also derive pleasure from causing emotional distress, manipulating others, and getting away with unethical or illegal actions.
  • Psychopaths may appear charming and charismatic on the surface, but their underlying lack of empathy can lead to dangerous behavior.

Most experts believe that psychopathy is a combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors. Early childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or trauma, may contribute to the development of psychopathic traits. The brain structure and function of people with psychopathy have also been shown to differ from those without the disorder.

Despite being depicted in popular culture as violent criminals, psychopathy is a rare disorder, estimated to affect less than one percent of the population. However, people with psychopathy are overrepresented in prisons and among violent offenders.

Characteristics of Psychopathy Characteristics of Non-Psychopaths
Lack of empathy Empathetic
Remorseless Remorseful
Manipulative Not manipulative
Impulsive Measured

People with psychopathy are often difficult to treat due to their lack of insight into their behavior and their inability to form meaningful relationships. However, some therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, may be effective in improving some symptoms of the disorder.


Sociopathy, or Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a lack of empathy and disregard for others’ feelings and well-being. People with this disorder often have a history of irresponsible behavior, impulsivity, and aggression.

  • They may manipulate others for personal gain without feeling any guilt or remorse.
  • They often have difficulty forming emotional attachments and maintaining long-term relationships.
  • They may engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse or criminal activity, without regard for the consequences.

Individuals with sociopathy might take pleasure in inflicting pain on others without feeling any empathy or remorse. These individuals may lack the ability to understand or recognize the feelings of others, leading to an inability to feel empathy or guilt.

According to a study published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, people with ASPD have an abnormality in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for regulating emotions and decision-making. This abnormality may contribute to their lack of empathy and disregard for others’ feelings.

Signs of Sociopathy Common Traits
Manipulative behavior Impulsivity
Disregard for social norms or rules Lack of remorse
Aggressive behavior Lack of empathy

If you suspect that you or someone you know may be exhibiting signs of sociopathy, it is important to seek professional help. Therapy and medication may help to manage the symptoms of ADHD and improve overall quality of life.


Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder enjoy inflicting pain on others to assert their power and control over them. They see themselves as superior to everyone else and feel entitled to special treatment and attention.

The 5 Subtypes of Narcissism

  • Grandiose Narcissism – the most common form of narcissism characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for admiration from others
  • Malignant Narcissism – a more extreme type of narcissism that includes a desire for control, manipulation, and the infliction of harm on others
  • Vulnerable Narcissism – a type of narcissism marked by excessive self-focus, self-pity, and a need for constant reassurance from others
  • Communal Narcissism – a subtype of narcissism characterized by a need to be seen as benevolent, helpful, and self-sacrificing while still seeking recognition and admiration from others
  • Agentic Narcissism – a type of narcissism in which an individual sees themselves as a superior problem solver, decision-maker, or leader

Narcissism and Inflicting Pain

Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder often enjoy inflicting pain on others to assert their power and control over them. They might do this by manipulating, lying, or gaslighting those around them to create a sense of confusion and helplessness. They might also engage in physical or emotional abuse, especially when they feel their ego has been threatened or when they believe they are not getting the admiration they deserve.

In addition, narcissistic individuals might take pleasure in seeing others suffer because it reinforces their own sense of superiority and reaffirms their belief that they are entitled to special treatment and recognition. They may also see others as objects to be used for their own benefit, rather than as fellow human beings who deserve respect and compassion.

Narcissism: A Dangerous Combination

The combination of sadism (the enjoyment of causing pain or suffering) and narcissism can be especially dangerous. Individuals with both traits might use their power to harm others for their own pleasure or to enhance their sense of superiority. They may be more likely to engage in violent or abusive behavior and to justify it as necessary to maintain their position of control or to punish those who have threatened their ego.

Narcissistic Trait Sadistic Trait Behavior
Grandiosity Cruelty Inflicting physical or emotional harm to maintain their sense of superiority
Lack of Empathy Brutality Showing no concern for the pain they are causing to others
Need for Admiration Sadism Taking pleasure in seeing others suffer to reinforce their own sense of superiority

It is important to recognize the signs of narcissistic personality disorder and to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or harm at the hands of a narcissistic individual.

Control and manipulation

Individuals who derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others often exhibit characteristics of control and manipulation. These individuals will often use their actions to assert their dominance over their victims, enjoying the feeling of power they have over them. They may display controlling behaviors in relationships, attempting to dictate the actions and emotions of their partners to maintain their power dynamic.

  • They may use gaslighting techniques to make their victims doubt their own perception of reality, further asserting their control over the situation.
  • They may also use manipulation tactics such as guilt-tripping or threatening to withhold affection to get what they want from their victims.
  • In extreme cases, sadistic individuals may even escalate their behavior to physical violence.

The desire for control is often rooted in a deep-seated insecurity or fear of losing power. For those who derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others, this fear is often projected onto their victims, creating a cycle of control and abuse.

It’s important to recognize the signs of control and manipulation in relationships, and to seek help if you are experiencing these types of behaviors. Whether it’s through therapy or leaving the relationship altogether, taking action to break the cycle of abuse is the only way to prevent further harm.

Signs of Control and Manipulation What to Do
Controlling behavior, such as dictating where their partner can go and who they can see. Set boundaries and communicate them clearly. Consider seeking counseling or ending the relationship if behavior persists.
Gaslighting or other manipulation tactics to make their partner doubt their own perception of reality. Seek counseling and a support system to help validate your experiences and feelings. Consider ending the relationship if behavior persists.
Threatening to withhold affection or resources to get what they want from their partner. Seek counseling and communicate your needs clearly. Consider ending the relationship if behavior persists.

Remember, no one deserves to be in an abusive or manipulative relationship. Taking action to regain control of your own life and well-being is the first step to breaking the cycle of abuse.

BDSM Culture

BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism) is a term used to describe a wide range of erotic or sexual practices that involve power exchange, control and sometimes infliction of pain. BDSM culture is a diverse and complex subculture that has its own set of rituals, practices and values. The participants of BDSM culture are usually called “kinksters” or “players” and they identify with various roles such as “dominant”, “submissive”, “switch”, “master” or “slave”. BDSM culture has its own language, symbols, and codes and it is often seen as taboo by mainstream society.

  • 1. Bondage & Discipline: In BDSM culture, bondage refers to the act of tying, restraining or binding someone using ropes, chains, cuffs or other devices. Discipline refers to the act of training, correcting or punishing someone for their misbehavior or disobedience. BDSM practitioners use various tools and techniques to achieve different levels of sensory stimulation and sensation play. Some examples of bondage and discipline activities include spanking, flogging, caning, whipping, and humiliation.
  • 2. Dominance & Submission: Dominance and submission refer to the power dynamics between two or more individuals. In BDSM culture, a dominant is a person who takes control and assumes responsibility for their partner’s pleasure and safety. A submissive, on the other hand, is a person who surrenders control and submits to their partner’s desires and demands. There are various levels of dominance and submission, and some BDSM practitioners engage in consensual non-consent (role-playing scenarios where one partner pretends to resist or struggle while the other partner uses force or coercion).
  • 3. Sadism & Masochism: Sadism and masochism refer to the experience of pleasure through the infliction or receipt of pain or humiliation. Sadists enjoy inflicting pain or discomfort on their partners, while masochists enjoy receiving it. BDSM practitioners use various tools and techniques to achieve different levels of pain or stimulation, such as nipple clamps, wax play, knife play, or electro-stimulation.

Although BDSM culture is often associated with non-consensual or abusive behavior, it is important to note that BDSM activities are based on fully informed and voluntary consent from all parties involved. BDSM culture values communication, negotiation, and respect for boundaries and limits. BDSM practitioners often use “safewords” or other signals to indicate when they want to stop or slow down an activity. Some BDSM practitioners even regard their activities as a form of therapy or personal growth.

While BDSM culture may not be for everyone, it is a legitimate and valid form of sexual expression that deserves understanding and acceptance. As long as all parties involved are consenting adults and no one is being harmed against their will, BDSM can be a healthy and positive aspect of a person’s sexuality.

FAQs: What Do You Call a Person Who Enjoys Inflicting Pain?

1. What is the psychological term for someone who enjoys inflicting pain?

The psychological term for someone who enjoys inflicting pain on others is “sadist.” Sadism is considered a mental disorder and is an aberration in human behavior.

2. What causes someone to become a sadist?

Many factors can contribute to the development of sadism. Childhood experiences, mental illness, and environmental factors are some common ones. It’s often a combination of various factors that lead to sadism.

3. Is sadism a criminal offense?

Sadism itself is not a criminal offense, but if it involves inflicting pain on others without their consent, it is considered a crime. Sadism often coexists with criminal behavior and can lead to violent behavior.

4. What are some signs that someone is a sadist?

Some signs that someone is a sadist include enjoying hurting others physically or emotionally, getting pleasure from inflicting pain, and having a lack of empathy for others.

5. Can a sadist be treated?

Sadism is a challenging disorder to treat, but with proper psychological therapy, it is possible to manage and reduce its symptoms. There are a variety of therapeutic approaches that can be used to help individuals with sadism.

6. What are the long-term effects of being a sadist?

The long-term effects of being a sadist can include feeling isolated and ostracized from society, being unable to form healthy relationships, and a lack of impulse control that can lead to criminal behavior.

7. Can sadism be prevented?

Sadism is difficult to prevent since its causes are numerous and not always clear. However, early intervention and support can help reduce the likelihood of developing sadistic tendencies.

Closing Paragraph: Thanks for Reading!

We hope that these FAQs have helped you better understand what a sadist is and what causes someone to become one. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to research more on the topic or seek professional assistance. Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll visit us again soon!