Bill's Sadism and Masochism

Sadism received its modern expression in the books by the Marquis Donatien de Sade in the eighteenth-century while masochism appears in the nineteenth-century in the work of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. These authors contributed their own names to sadism, pleasure derived from causing pain and masochism, pleasure from suffering.  Such behavior is quite ordinary and widespread and separate from the S and M of whips and chains.

Humans have two kinds of instincts like the finch which has two songs, one for mating and the other for protection of its territory.  Freud who said the goals of life were love and work looked at nature as binary, divided into twos. He found the sexual instincts in the libidinous id and in the ego were the survival or life instincts, both in the unconscious. Thanatos was a primitive source of aggression according to Freud but this view never really took hold.

The common belief is that aggression in human behavior is a part of the life or survival instincts which is directed toward satisfying the need for food, shelter and work. Of course aggressive behavior is not simply an expression of an unconscious instinct since conscious frustration often leads to aggressive action.  During early human development, the life instincts including aggression become sexualized while the sexual instincts are tinged with aggression. The instincts don't have free play, their expression is controlled by the  part of the ego representing parental rules and reality and the critical conscience or superego where guilt is generated.

Sadism and masochism originate during the oral and anal phases of infantile development and are altered by later experience but their origin and growth is unconscious. While the cruelty of sadism and the suffering of  masochism may appear to be separate, both are always present, one overt and the other covert so their combination is called sadomasochism.

I started thinking about this as I realized that many of Bill's love affairs ended on an angry and threatening note. Both Dolly Browning and Gennifer Flowers felt intimidated and frightened by Bill after he became a candidate for President. During the media frenzy about her relationship with Bill in 1992, Gennifer said, "I could have been killed..."  When Dolly's  tabloid exposure seemed imminent  in 1992, she says that Bill threatened to "destroy" her and she countered with "MAD,"  an angry acronym for Mutually Assured Destruction.  Affairs often end in recriminations  but this choice of weapons suggests an influence from Bill's fears and the violent threats that he heard between his mother and stepfather as he was growing up.  Bill's mental environment included his stepfather's brutality and his mother as the victim of his stepfather's sadism. Gennifer and Dolly's fears of  being killed or destroyed point to a sadistic current in Bill's personality. The words of  Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey after their  brief sexual encounters also express their feelings of fear and hazard. Monica  and Bill seem angry and threatening toward  each other too as they talk through their lawyers though it's harder to read these emotions.

I recall that Gennifer Flowers wouldn't let Bill Clinton tie her up in a sex game with Bill playing sadist although he let her tie him up so he could play masochist.  "...Sadistic behavior may hide unconscious masochistic aims," psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel explains. Bill's masochistic impulses are more covert then his sadism in his public sexual life and also in his political life.

The political risks of casual sex in the White House as described by Willey and the Lewinsky  tapes and the accusation of Paula Jones remain a major threat to Bill's Presidency so the pleasures of sex produce the pain of Ken Starr's prosecution for perjury and obstruction of justice and the huge presidential legal bills. The effect on the Congressional election of 1998 is unknown and maybe another possible cause of pain from the  sex scandals. The reaction of presidential masochism is best expressed by the whine of Jack Stanton, the Clinton surrogate in Primary Colors who says, "I can't catch a break, can I,"  as he learns that his casual  encounter with a teenager has left her pregnant.

But isn't Bill a lovable rogue or a Falstaff of gargantuan appetites? Yes, and that's why his poll numbers keep going up. The soccer moms and America's dads put Elvis in the White House and they don't want to hear about his or their own unconscious sadomasochism.

Some of Jack Kennedy's lovers' didn't feel threatened although Judith Exner still sleeps with a gun under her pillow according to Seymour Hersh's Dark Side of Camelot.  Judith Exner who  was also the girlfriend of a Mafioso was harassed and threatened by both the CIA and the FBI according to her book about her affair with JFK. Marilyn Monroe after her affair with JFK was depressed and continued to talk about Jack  divorcing Jackie and marrying her as she approached her own suicide. Most of JFK's mistresses have not told their stories but we know one of his White House lovers, Ellen Rometsch possibly an East German spy was sent back to Germany in 1963 and Jack sent her money to assure her silence.

I'm not suggesting that Kay Summersby was totally forgiving about being dumped by Ike but she didn't feel danger and malevolence. After their wartime romance, Kay wrote a book about her relationship with Ike whom she continued to love from afar.  Lyndon Johnson's first long term affair ended when Alice Marsh disagreed with his position on the Vietnam war although they continued to correspond.  His second affair with Madeleine Brown from 1948 to 1969 ended when he failed to acknowledge his son who was then eighteen although he had provided for her financial support. Her son sued LBJ's widow in 1987 for a share of his father's estate but in 1992 Madelaine told a reporter that she still loved LBJ.

To compare Clinton with the past is really impossible because the Nineties have different standards on presidential behavior and new rules on media privacy as well as a special prosecutor. It is these new norms themselves that have publicized the affairs of most of the post-war presidents.

Bill's behavior toward Hillary is sadistic too and this dovetails with Hillary's masochism. Again, this isn't necessarily conscious but it's certainly visible.  Bill's casual infidelities as well as his long term affairs cause Hillary pain and maybe a kind of perverse pleasure. (See Hillary's Sadism and Masochism and Hillary's Moral Masochism and the Monica Porno Flick).

Bill's sadomasochism is determined by diverse factors including his unconscious switch of Hillary from her role as a sexually desirable woman, the Whore to the sexually taboo woman, the Madonna  as explained in  Bill's Good and Bad Women. The section on Bill's Narcissism explains another unconscious factor in Bill's quest for love affairs: Bill needs the adulation of the affair and the mistress to bolster his self-esteem because he has a hidden childhood inferiority as a clumsy, fat sissy who was rejected. This all fits well with Bill's Acting Out, an ego defense that is most visible as the bubba eruptions.  To make matters more complex, there is an affinity between Bill's sadomasochism and his death instinct if you take the view that aggression originates in Thanatos.

This leads  to the view of Bill as a masochist who receives unconscious gratification from Hillary the sadist. We're going to discover in a later section that Hillary is sadistic as she verbally lashes Bill with harsh words and perhaps physically with a  projectile lamp or an ashtray.

How did Bill's sadomasochism get started? This is bound to be sketchy  but it's better to speculate then ignore the issue. It has already been noted that Bill may have been the victim of Stepfather Roger's physical abuse. In any case, the assaults on his mother Virginia from the time Bill was four to age fourteen were like attacks on Bill. As a victim of actual or vicarious child abuse abuse from his stepfather, Bill is stimulated by the acting out and sadomachochism. The identification is with both the aggressive sadistic stepfather and the masochistic mother who divorces and then remarries the stepfather. Tracking sadomasochism to its origin suggests some oral sadism mixed in with Bill's predominant oral optimism and some anal sadism along with Bill's strong anal control.

These are the tea leaves of the psychoanalytic ritual. Don't forget to ask Bill about this theory if you get to a Renaissance weekend.

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An excerpt from Bill Clinton Meets The Shrinks, by Paul Lowinger
Copyright 1998 by Paul Lowinger