The biggest mistake and set of very inaccurate and very false misconceptions about masochism by and within both psychotherapy, psychiatry, and psychiatric mental health, is that the psychological and social causes of both these very separate things, are seen and misunderstood by psychotherapy, psychiatry, and psychiatric mental health as being exactly the same, although there is one very slight but very partial similarity between the two.
Whilst all forms of sexuality and sexual-orientations have elements of both attraction, attractiveness, repulsion and disgust, masochism can only really be understood by realising and understanding the ways that attraction and repulsion and disgust are linked and related within and by masochists, the ways that the two things alternate, differentiate, separate, change into each other and then re-differentiate - how this all operates and applies in very different ways both within and between masochists, switches (people who are both sexually dominant, submissive, sadistic, and masochistic) and sadists - and how all of these different factors and different sexual-orientations and people connect, interrelate, relate and interact, work together and find a consensus and a common ground, agree to differ, and then part ways.
However, to reveal and explain about all of this about masochists, switches, and sadists, is not the purpose of this article, as it is to explain the major differences, distinctions, and the slight and very partial similarity between self-harm and masochism, although again, even these slight similarities are very different in their details, very basic elements, and in their entireties.
Also, whilst masochism and self-harm are very, very different things, revealing, realising, and understanding about all of this in great details and entirety about masochism, switches, and sadism - by using and applying a most highly ingenious contrast and a pluralistic contextual and detailed association and set of both contrasted and related associations - all sheds light in a totally new and greater understanding of and about self-harm and self-harmers, but this is also not the purpose of this article, as I will only refer to and mention in this article the very limited, partial, pre-existing and very incomplete social and psychological explanations of self-harm and self-harmers.
Self-harm by self-harmers, is basically about emotional numbness, mental and emotional distress and pain, anxiety, and/or depression, and it is about how self-harmers harm themselves physically in order to override these things and their experiences of and with them, and because they either do this because they are dissociating from the mental and emotional distress and pain, anxiety, or depression, or because they are trying to diminish and counteract the dissociation and/or depersonalisation they feel by self-harming, in order to wake up and feel more real.
Many self-harmers also self-harm, because many of them have been abused and traumatised in their pasts, and they are wanting to make different associations with mental and emotional pain and distress, and sometimes they trick themselves into believing that the physical pain of their self-harm, is actually the emotional pain and distress, because their feelings of mental and emotional pain and distress have been suppressed and repressed by more unjust punishment and abuse in their pasts, and this is their way of feeling and believing that they now have some control over the mental and emotional pain and distress by hurting themselves physically by self-harming.
All of these social and psychological causes and factors of and about self-harm, have absolutely no connection or relation, to or with the very partial social and psychological causes of masochism, except the fact that both self-harmers and masochists both seek to make and do actually make some different associations between mental and emotional pain and distress, and physical pain, but the ways that each do this, are very, very different.
Another very major difference and distinction, is that the types of associations that masochists use and make, are very different from the types of associations that self-harmers use and make, and what's more these associations that masochists use and make, unlike self-harmers, have absolutely nothing to do with any kind of dissociation or depersonalisation in any ways whatsoever.
What's more, self-harmers do not get pleasure from either emotional and mental pain or distress, and neither do they get pleasure from physical pain, whilst many aspects of masochism have absolutely nothing to do with either emotional and mental or physical pain, as the humiliation by the opposite sex that masochists enjoy is neither emotional nor physical pain (although being humiliated can cause of lead to emotional pain) but being humiliated is actually psychological discomfort and both a reduction, a moderation, and an expansion of personal and social identity and self-esteme.
What's more, the sexual and affection submissiveness that masochists love and enjoy towards the opposite sex, is neither mental and emotional nor physical pain, nor is it any kind of psychological or identity changing or discomfort, as submissive love and desire is to do with feelings and desires of fondness, pleasantness, happiness, positive emotions and desires, and attraction.
Peter H. Donnelly