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Why some of us push our bodies to extremes
Author: Jenny Valentish

This book is about people willing to do the sorts of things that most others couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't. While there are all sorts of reasons why people consume substances, the author notes that there are those who treat drug-taking like an Olympic sport, exploring their capacity to really push their bodies, and frankly, wanting to be the best at it. Extreme athletes, death-defiers and those who perform incredible stunts of endurance have been celebrated throughout history. The most successful athletes can compartmentalise, storing away worry and pain in a part of their brain so it does not interfere with their performance. The brain releases testosterone, for a boost of strength and confidence. In bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) play, the endogenous opioid system responds to the pain, releasing opioid peptides. It seems some of us are more wired than others to activate those ancient biological systems, be it through being caned in a dungeon during a lunchbreak or climbing a sheer rock wall at the weekend. Back in 1990, sociologist Stephen Lyng coined the term 'edgework', now frequently used in BDSM circles, as 'voluntary pursuit of activities that involve a high potential for death, physical injury, or spiritual harm'.

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Jenny Valentish

endocannabinoids, endorphins and serotonin, the flood of which can feel transcendent, even spiritual. There’s a similar rush going on during high-octane thrill-seeking. When BASE jumpers are about to leap into the unknown, the amygdala senses the risk and triggers the release of a blend of chemicals: dopamine, which provides focus; adrenaline, which increases heart rate, boosting oxygen and glucose for energy; and endorphins, to protect against pain. The brain releases testosterone, for a boost of strength and confidence. In bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM

in Everything harder than everyone else
Open Access (free)
White male vulnerability as heterosexual fantasy
Susanna Paasonen

condensed, as a ‘lost boy’ acutely dependent on feminine acceptance and care. Childhood trauma  –​recounted in several flashback snippets of nightmare  –​explains Christian’s compulsion to control and punish Anastasia, as well as keep her safe. These aspects then fold into BDSM play as a form of DIY therapy (James, 2015: 425). In his recurrent nightmares, Christian regresses into childhood, observing his frightening surroundings from the perspective of an infant, and with the emotional registers of one. It is dark now, and my mommy is gone. I can reach the light when I

in The power of vulnerability
Abstract only
Jenny Valentish

after your sparring sessions, it just might help.’ The ‘aftercare’ of BDSM play that BirdyDevil refers to would require the individual’s sparring partner or trainer to cuddle with them on the sofa while watching gentle things on Netflix. That’s a bit much to ask. I remember what Sir James told me about his clients at his sex dungeon: one motivation might be simply the knowledge that they could survive beatings. That in turn reminds me of something I read in journalist- turned-fighter Josh Rosenblatt’s book. Josh explores what he calls the great paradox of fighting

in Everything harder than everyone else