The Human Mind

Personality Disorders


Sadistic Personality Disorder


Sadistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning, and aggressive behavior, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by the repeated occurrence of at least four of the following:

  • has used physical cruelty or violence for the purpose of establishing dominance in a relationship (not merely to achieve some non-interpersonal goal, such as striking someone in order to rob him or her);
  • humiliates or demeans people in the presence of others;
  • has treated or disciplined someone under his or her control unusually harshly, e.g., a child, student, prisoner, or patient;
  • is amused by, or takes pleasure in, the psychological or physical suffering of others (including animals);
  • has lied for the purpose of harming or inflicting pain on others (not merely to achieve some other goal);
  • gets other people to do what he or she wants by frightening them (through intimidation or even terror);
  • restricts the autonomy of people with whom he or she has a close relationship, e.g., will not let spouse leave the house unaccompanied or permit teen-age daughter to attend social functions;
  • is fascinated by violence, weapons, martial arts, injury, or torture.

The behavior has not been directed toward only one person (e.g., spouse, one child) and has not been solely for the purpose of sexual arousal (as in Sexual Sadism).


Source: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
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