Another little considered element in Chiliasm (that Chirst will reign on this earth for a 1000 years) is that of masochism, and sadism, the two being merely the opposite sides of the same psychical phenomenon.
This element is found more or less prominently in all the Chiliastic literature from the early fragment of Papias to the elaborate discussions of Augustine. The masochistic phenomena are the most remarkable characteristics of the early martyrdoms and if a collection were made of the masochistic passages of the writings of the Chiliasts, the bulk of them would be as great as that of the Chiliastic passages proper. It is necessary to bear in mind that masochism necessarily, in any advanced society, disguises itself under some socially acceptable form of sentiment or emotion, i.e., admiration for the constancy of the confessors or martyrs, suffering as a mark of the true Church, etc. It is always associated with the reality or idea of struggle. It has a high 'survival value' in the struggle for existence by heightening individual power in conflict. Like other human characteristics it is seen most clearly in the exaggerated form it assumes in its crowd manifestations. Its most evident expression is in the 'mob mind.' Our problem, then, is to discover how the declension of Chiliasm is to be explained by the transfer of the masochistic element in it to other vehicles of expression. The masochistic element was a vital factor in Chiliasm; without it almost the whole force of 'the thousand years reign of the saints' is lost.
The explanation of the transfer is difficult. Undoubtedly some of the masochistic values of Chiliasm were taken over by the various, previously mentioned concepts that combined to make up the idea of the Catholic Church. 'Extra ecclesia nulla salus' accounts for part of the phenomena previously expressed Chiliastically. It is notable in this connection that there is no word of Chiliasm in Cyprian. But a more important transfer was that which took place in the course of the development of the doctrine of purgatory.
It may perhaps seem incongruous to say that purgatory took over the values of the millennium and from the point of view of formal theology it is so. But the only point we are trying to make here, namely, the fundamental fact of the expression of masochistic impulses, is as evidently shown in the purgatory as in the millennium concept. The desire for a heightened sense of self-realization, a richer content of experience, is the cause of the appearance of both concepts and they are closely allied psychologically. This fact comes out in the large part played by the Chiliasts in the evolution of the purgatory concept. What we find here is a concurrent declension of Chiliasm and development of purgatory. For about two centuries the two concepts existed side by side; then the superior social value of purgatory asserting itself, that doctrine gradually took over the masochistic values of Chiliasm; the supersession of the later being rendered thereby more rapid and easy.