“The patient with sadomasochistic object relations may often give a history of idealizations and disillusionments with objects, personal causes, and life-events. This may be coupled with difficulties in being consistent in real life and difficulties with self-constancy and object constancy. Many of these difficulties with constancy and consistency are traceable to a lack of constancy in the parents, who usually turn out to have treated their children with what the Furmans (1984) have labelled “intermittent de-cathexis," that is, either a total lack of attention or more often an intermittent withdrawal or loss of interest that is the more devastating because it is so inexplicable. These patients, who have so often felt unaccountably dropped, then develop a mistrust and fear of dependency that pervades all their relationships and makes the therapeutic relationship, in particular, doubly difficult.
In compensation for this basic distrust, they then develop either an idealized relationship with an Other who treats them sadistically and whom they masochistically endure, or else they idealize themselves and become the sadistic partner in a sadomasochistic couple."