Both sadism and masochism are based on attacking vulnerabilities.
A sadist is identified with the vulnerability in themselves,
While the masochist is identified with the strength in themselves.
The interesting thing here is that, “identification is always unconsciousness”.
You are unconscious of what you identify with.
So the masochist is unconscious of their strength/power, but sees it projected outside themselves.
While the sadist is unconscious of their weakness/vulnerability, but sees it projected outside themselves.
The masochist thinks, if only I could end all of my weakness, needs, and vulnerability,
Then I could be fully free to be myself (which is strength in this case).
The sadist thinks, if only I could get rid of all the threats in my environment,
If only I could weaken all the stronger people around me who could be potential threats,
Then I can be fully free to be myself (which is vulnerability in this case).
Accordingly, 2 strategies are used by the sadist and masochist to end the threat to their identification.
For the sadist, the strategy is:
To preemptively attack the other’s vulnerabilities, or prepare for doing that,
So that the other is prevented or disabled from attacking yours.
It is a combination of weakness inside, strength display outside.
For the masochist, the strategy is:
To preemptively take on oneself the task of attacking one’s own vulnerabilities,
To try to put an end to them and remove all traces of them.
This is a combination of strength inside, weakness display outside.
But the root for both the cases here is:
The idea of “EXPECTING” the same things to happen – i.e. rejection/attack/abuse.
What unites the sadist and masochist is = The deep expectation to be attacked/rejected/abused etc.,
And this is coming from the deep memories of the same inflicted on them from the past.
The responses to these similar kind of memories are complementary because of opposite identifications.
The masochist is identified with strength, and therefore works to remove his vulnerability – in preparation or in reaction.
The sadist is identified with vulnerability, and therefore works to fight all threats off – in preparation or in reaction.
Since this expectation seeks to prove/validate itself again and again,
It seeks/attracts the same circumstances/people to confirm and justify itself again and again.
So it creates a vicious loop that has a strong gravity of its own,
Which keeps these patterns constantly spinning and repeating in one’s experience.
The sadist and masochist both attract each other,
Because each believes the other is helping them towards attaining their aim.
But the full reality of this is weirder.
The sadist can never destroy the strength of others by attacking their vulnerability.
Often it counter-intuitively makes them even stronger and thereby even more threatening.
Similarly, the masochist in one’s attempt to end all vulnerability,
Feels powerless to do so, because it is impossible to fully rid themselves of it.
So acting out the sadistic or masochistic impulses,
Make one feel even more powerless.
Ultimately the root/source of all of these patterns is in the memories of abuse coming from the deep past (even ancestral/lineage/genetic).
Because it is these memories that create the expectancies.
Then these expectations are projected on others,
And thus these patterns play themselves out again and again.