Something of a Different Nature

Psychopathia Sexualis (Sexual Psychopathy) by German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing was the first scientific catalogue of sexual deviance and perversion. The first edition was published in 1886 and it went through twelve editions in the author’s lifetime and was translated into seven languages. It popularized the terms ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ based on the names of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch respectively, though they had been in use prior to its writing.

A term that appeared for the first time was ‘pageist’. It was coined by a man called Mr. Z, whose history was Case 50.

As with all other cases, Krafft-Ebing first details the man’s familial background for psychiatric and physical disorders and then Mr Z’s physical problems. Then he describes the patient’s masochistic sexual fantasies over several paragraphs, which involved being flogged amongst other things. He then says:

While his masochistic fantasies and acts were entirely of a coarse, sensual nature, his “pageism” consisted of the idea of being a page to a beautiful girl. His conception was perfectly chaste, but piquant; his relation to her that of a slave, but absolutely pure—a mere platonic submission. This reveling in the idea of serving as a page to such a “beautiful creature” was coloured by a pleasureable feeling, but was in no way sexual. In it, he experienced an exquisite feeling of moral satisfaction, in contrast with sensually colored masochism, and therefore he could regard it as something of a different nature.

I also experienced a feeling of moral satisfaction at the idea of being an older woman’s pet. It felt pure, innocent, virtuous. It was the opposite end of the spectrum from the sexual thoughts I had about being physically punished in what I now realise would have been a mutually agreed upon Dominant/submissive relationship. It’s only recently that I see those two relationships can co-exist.

At the end of Case 50, Krafft-Ebing says:

What the patient designates as “pageism” does not differ in any way from masochism, as may be seen [1] when it is compared with the following cases of symbolic masochism and others; [2] upon the consideration that in this perversion coitus is avoided as an inadequate act, and [3] from the fact that in such cases there is often a fantastic exaltation of the perverse ideal.

[1] I’m not sure what the good doctor means by ‘symbolic masochism’ but I’m guessing he means service-oriented submission rather than being physically beaten. In that case pageism doesn’t differ from other types of masochism, no. Running around and doing errands as an unpaid page is no different from being a person’s table, really.

[2] Regarding sex as being inadequate—I certainly thought so growing up—the way I felt about whatever woman I wanted to serve would have only been sullied by intercourse. My feelings were larger, grander, encompassed the whole of the universe, and mere sex would be a disservice. It also seemed really boring in comparison to all of the other ways I could please her. I could do a hundred different chores and errands or one thing (I thought of sex as one thing—I was repressed).

[3] Fantastic exaltation? Check. I had that in spades. But that’s what it’s about—everyone gets to be bigger or smaller than who they really are. I big you up so I can be small and you can care for me and you can enjoy caring for me because you enjoy that. You enjoy being worshiped and I want to worship the hell out of you.

I still regard pageism as something of a different nature but more because there don’t seem to be a great number of us dying to trip around after older women, begging to do the filing and typing.

Would you like me to organise your binders, Miss?

That’s not a euphemism. I really mean it. Your binders are in a state.

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