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Portrait of the Marquis de Sade (1760).

In psychology, sadism is an instance of finding sexual gratification from inflicting pain on others. This may be a real life psychological disorder. Sadism may also be a fantasy game played between participants. See play. A person acting out sadism is called a sadist. One of the double meanings for "S" in the term BDSM represents sadism.

The medical term "sadism" was coined by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his book Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), based on the name of the Marquis de Sade, a French writer who had written erotic novels on this subject matter.

In consensual spanking, sadism comes from inflicting pain on the spankee's buttocks. Sadism usually respresents an intense psychological need by the spankee, not by the spanker. Thus, there's a transference of sexual fantasy from spankee to spanker. Generally, the spanker is only playing at sadism to fulfill the needs of the spankee and perhaps spectators.

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