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Værker af Leigh Cowart

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It argues that we all are masochists in a sense, as we enjoy eating food that scorch our mouthes, we plunge ourselves into ice cold water, we run grueling marathons, and we engage in BDSM. The author also reflects on her own experience with self-harm and Bulimia, and why she did it. This leads to the question of when does masochism—voluntarily engaging in pain for fun—turn into self-harm?

I thought it was a little long and repetitive at some points, and I haven't really learned anything new but it did give me a new perspective on pain and masochism.… (mere)
KJC__ | 3 andre anmeldelser | Feb 4, 2023 |
Why do people desire pain with their pleasure? What do people expect from that pain? This book examines those questions and more.

I found this book fascinating. I never thought about pain on purpose as having any more reason than that people found pleasure in it. There is more than just BDSM aficionados. There are so many more people who desire pain to receive pleasure. They may consist of those who eat chili peppers, run ultramarathons (had never heard about these), people who are pierced and/or tattooed, polar bear plungers, religious flagellants, and others.

She explains the body's reaction to the pain and the aftermath of the pain or the pleasure hormones flooding the body. Ms. Cowart is methodical in following the science of pain on purpose. She gives stories--her own and others. She is honest about her life as well as others. Seems like there are a lot of people who like some pain with their pleasure.

This is a quick read but there is so much in it. It made me rethink things I thought I knew. It is a conversation starter. Worth the read!
… (mere)
Sheila1957 | 3 andre anmeldelser | Jan 22, 2022 |
My experience of this book was a rollercoaster! I started off super excited about this book, and to learn about such an intriguing topic. For context, I read this straight through, and did not skip around (which seems to be the way the author intends for you to read this as well). During the first half, I struggled sometimes with the writing style. It felt like the author was switching back and forth between 'being on the scene' with a particular topic versus quoting various experts/historical sources, and it just didn't flow that well. But about mid-way through, something clicked and the writing really just flowed; I was immersed in the last 6 or so chapters. Definitely felt like it was worth it to read to the end. 3.5 stars, although I rounded up for the bravery on taking on this topic in the first place.… (mere)
monique21 | 3 andre anmeldelser | Dec 6, 2021 |
Hundreds of billions of dollars annually go into the research, production and sales of tools and meds to dull, lessen or avoid pain. Pain suffering is a universal human dilemma. And yet, there are untold millions, possibly billions of people who crave it. Pain comes in an unending variety of flavors, as Leigh Cowart discovers, explains and demonstrates in Hurts So Good. It’s bigger than we think. Cowart says “Once I noticed the propensity and enjoyment of certain kinds of pain in myself, I noticed it everywhere.”

Her book is a remarkable tour of people seeking pain. She attends an ultra-marathon, where people run for 60 hours straight, until only one person is left on the course. Millions of little girls live for the day when they get their first pointe shoes for ballet, so their nails can dig into their feet, their cuticles can blister and bleed, and maybe some toes break. She attends a chili pepper eating contest, and most unwisely chews on the world’s hottest pepper, followed immediately by rubbing her eyes with her capsaicin-covered fingers. She swims with other “idiots” in the Atlantic Ocean on New Years’ Day. If it causes pain, Cowart wants to explore it.

She opens, wisely, with an adventure in BDSM, her own current favorite source of pain. That gets the reader hooked for the long look back to Sacher-Masoch and Krafft-Ebbing, who brought sexual pain into the public realm, revealing, as this book does, that there is a very wide interest in reading about sex. That, plus their own stories are particularly revealing. If it’s sex-related, humans can’t get enough of it.

Back in the present, Cowart enjoys a good beating, being Saran-wrapped and hung from the ceiling, spanked till she can’t sit, manhandled abusively, and forced to orgasm amidst the blood and fluids. She glows from it, in more ways than one. This is not your mother’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

Pain seekers go back at least to the early Christians, with their animal hair shits and self-flagellation. It was well documented a thousand years later, as sects self-flagellated in public to atone for the Black Plague. Such activities were usually considered (at least until recently) mental illness, and treated as such. Cowart says however, that self-flagellating cults in the streets would not have been shocking in the 1300s. Pain has long been a normal part of daily life, with beatings at school and at work. Today, mankind has developed all sorts of ways to induce pain, seemingly for pleasure, with little or no stigma attached. It is even admired.

The pleasure comes in many forms, she says. It can be an adrenaline rush during the pain, or the endorphin rush afterwards. It can be satisfaction in knowing you can outlast the pain, or the accomplishment of doing something truly pointless, but which demonstrates superhuman exertion.

That possibly half of humanity enjoys some sort of pain is a revelation. It is far more important, and in a positive way, than we normally think. Here’s her best try at explaining it: “When people talk about pain on purpose, they almost always talk about what comes next, how they feel after the pain. The dominion over self. The endorphin rush, that hit of homebrew morphine, the lactic acid that makes the muscles tense with a pleasing burn long after the workout has ended. High-sensation-seeking people out there using their bodies to test limits, to feel something wild, to push themselves. There are masochists who are strictly pain-seeking for the sensation of it, but, in my experience, there are so, so many more who use pain as a tool to feel something else. To feed bad to feel better.”

It’s not just kinky sex. She says: “I believe, through research and interviews and personal experience, that using pain for its own sake is an everyday part of being human. I think the capacity to seek out and benefit from pain is built into us, embedded in the looping chemical user manuals that come installed in our rented primate bodies.” She says she is in awe of people who display such mastery. In other words, suffering induced pain is an accomplishment worthy of praise. Just ask marathoners, long distance swimmers, Everest climbers, or people who hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one go. They’re all examined here.

For Cowart, it seems to have begun at an early age with ballet, which punished her, put her in hospital, and nearly caused her to die. Like most ballerinas, she knew it was all part of the road to success, so she kept at it. But looking back, it was crazy: “What if you took your shoes off and kicked the wall with your big toe as hard as you could, over and over and over again, and then you kept doing it until your toenails turned eggplant purple and fell off?” So we train our children to not merely endure, but to seek out pain as being worthy.

The best segment, at least for me, was her description of her days in Chicago as an anorexic-bulimic. The days were all the same, working two jobs, stealing, downing various foods and immediately throwing them back up, in order to digest nothing, ever. The pain of hunger, of the deteriorating body aching for any kind of sustenance and her miserable lifestyle are all horribly real. She’s not proud of that period, but she demonstrates again how pain shapes her life. And that she is not alone.

Freed of anorexia before it would have killed her, she has moved on to BDSM-related pain. It must be done with trust and love, she says. While she would blanch at a stranger touching her arm, a lover inserting needles like stitches all over her back is immensely pleasurable, beyond the immediate pain. “I have come to think of my experiences with masochism as a kind of biohacking: a way to use the electrochemistry of my body in a deliberate way for the purpose of curating a specific experience. Something about my response to pain is different, be it inborn or learned (or both, I suspect). It’s something that allows me to craft a little pocket of joy for myself, an engineered release, be it through running a few miles uphill, getting a tattoo, or getting slapped in the face for fun until I cry.”

Pain focuses the mind. When Cowart is in induced pain, nothing else matters. She is totally focused on only the pain. All the worries of the day, all the worries of the world simply vanish. There is nothing at all in the universe besides her pain. That is part of the attraction. She heard the same sort of thing from marathoners, and when she joined the “polar bears” on January first for a dip in the Atlantic, she also focused, telling herself she would survive, it would soon end, and she could do this. Despite extreme cold being her worst fear. She heard that kind of recitation from others in her travels.

The book has lengthy explanations of how pain works, how the brain interprets it and filters knowledge of it as it deems appropriate. The brain can be trained to react differently to pain too. It’s all part of the game of pain, and for some the game is everything.

I like how conversational Cowart is, making her experiences very believable. She also is journalistic, checking details, backgrounds, interviewing scientists and taking far more notes than she could ever use in the book, she says. She even provides a Youtube video of her eating the world’s hottest pepper exactly as she described it – painfully.

I did not like all the F-bombs, often several per page. That always dulls their usage, without adding any information. They have no shock value in the book, though they might elicit the occasional giggle. But I came to realize the book would not be better without them. It’s part of the self-harm ethos that Cowart talks dirty. It is altogether a different world, and Cowart is an excellent guide to it.

David Wineberg
… (mere)
1 stem
DavidWineberg | 3 andre anmeldelser | Jul 18, 2021 |





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