Specific Narrative Kinks: Sadistic praise

What do I mean by this:

Sadistic praise is when the principal says something to the constrict that in a positive dynamic would be a compliment, but instead functions as emotional torture in some way. (Note: this is distinct from Your Approval Fills Me With Shame, where the villain compliments something the hero does not see as a positive quality at all. Here, the subject of the compliment is not a problem – the problem is the person doing the complimenting, and why they’re doing it).


This tends to come in two flavors of what makes it sadistic.

  1. It’s a threat. This tends to be common for compliments on the constrict’s endurance, strength, courage, etc. In this case, a statement by the principal like “I can see why they call you the brave one” usually implies some form of “I’m going to do horrible things to you”, whether in the form of “torturing you will be very entertaining”, “I’m taking this as a challenge and you are going to lose”, or something else.
  2. It’s a form of negative closeness. This is the one sided kind, and is therefore intended to be violating and disturbing. It’s a violation of the constrict’s emotional boundaries. Complimenting is a form of personal interaction, and here the principal is engaging in this interaction without consent, toward a person who has the opposite of a reason to welcome absolutely any level of social or emotional intimacy from them. As such, it’s a way of inflicting psychological torture.

Actionable counterpart:

I’m not sure. I think this falls into the category of things I’d need to try to figure out how I feel from/about them. I definitely do want to try and experiment with it.

Negative Closeness

[This is one of those things I probably want to write more about at some point, whether about it in general or about specific elements, but in the meanwhile I’m putting a basic post out there so that it’s there and I can refer back to it and such.]

To give a simple definition, negative closeness is when elements that tend to be characteristic of positive relationships, especially emotionally intimate or otherwise close ones, appear in negative dynamics.

This is something that both shows up a lot in many of the negative dynamics I’m into, and is really common in fiction in general, for I think pretty similar reasons – if two people are a main focus of a work, the work is more interesting if their relationship is more interesting, and emotions and complexity tend to make for more interesting relationships than detachment.

Negative closeness has three main flavors – one, when both characters are engaging in it, and two and three, when one character is engaging in it but not the other (that’s two flavors as opposed to one because whether the character engaging in it is the hero or the villain and, in my case, the principal or the constrict, makes a difference to the dynamic).

Negative closeness can generally be seen in two areas:

  1. The character’s feelings. This can involve things like being particularly interested in the other character, desiring to spend time with them, not wanting to or being conflicted about hurting or killing them when normally they wouldn’t hesitate, etc.
  2. The character’s actions. This can involve things like sharing or inquiring about personal information, expressing concern, being respectful in ways that are not demanded, etc.

For the aforementioned ‘makes things more interesting’ reason, the feelings elements tends to show up a lot in some form at least, including with characters who hide it.

However, actions without feelings can also show up, in that case usually either as a mind game on the part of the characters doing them, or as a point of personal pride/honor.