Why do we seek pleasure in pain?

Why do we seek pleasure in pain?

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Aussie rocker Chrissy Amphlett warned us about the dangers of blurring our senses when she sang about the fine line that separates pleasure and pain.
But for many people, the act of enduring pain is in fact quite pleasurable.
Think of those blokes you see at the gym who are wrestling with heavy weights as veins protrude in their head while they groan in mystifying agony.
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What’s with that?
Exercise physiologist and sports scientist, Dr Ian Gillam, said that endorphins were at play and the chemical provoked many obsessive behaviours in athletes and people within the general population when they were at the peak of exposure.
Endorphins are our natural “feel good” chemicals and in large doses are more potent than morphine. They help to relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria in individuals, especially when they’re testing their endurance during painstaking exercise routines.
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“Endorphin release usually happens with more prolonged exercise. Over 45 minutes of intense exercise provokes significant endorphin release,” Dr Gillam said.
“Endorphins reduce pain, which can induce what is commonly referred to as a ‘runners high’ which feels just as enjoyable as a drug.”
Exercise obviously presented many benefits to participants but because of the deceitful nature of endorphins, people often go too far in their workouts. Endorphins ensure we can put our bodies under a great deal of physical pressure without feeling any pain while seemingly, enjoying it.
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Dr Gillam warned we should be cautious about exercise when we were unwell or had lowered immunity because such pain infliction could result in “further illness or injury” — even if it felt good.
But, painful pleasure seeking isn’t exclusive to working out — it can also be experienced during sex.
Sexual activity and intimate behaviours stimulate a variety of complexities within our senses. According to experts within the sex industry, it’s extremely common for individuals to seek out pleasure by participating in painful acts of eroticism.
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Spanking is a crowd favourite and there are even classes available for couples to best learn how to experiment with this practice.
“Having a good spanking can be like going for a good run — you can become completely invigorated by it” sex therapist and relationship counsellor, Jacqueline Hellyer, insisted.
“It’s important for people taking part in this behaviour to ensure they’re paying great attention to their partner and observing their response to the act.”
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According to Ms Hellyer, anticipation and an impulsive desire to experience the unknown is what turns people on when they’re being whipped or spanked.
“The sheer anticipation of wondering ‘is this painful?’ or ‘is this not painful?’ helps to further increase our sensations — people play around with this to seek out immense pleasure during sex” she said.
Gruelling and painful body training can provide just as many pleasurable benefits as seeking an orgasm while being spanked, but there are some instances when self-induced pain can become seriously problematic, specifically in the instances of self-harm.
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People who deliberately hurt themselves to seek euphoria or ‘pleasure’ do so for four major reasons, according to psychologist Georgia Ray.
“People who self harm do so to reduce negative emotions, to feel ‘something’ besides numbness or emptiness, to avoid certain social situations and to receive social support,” she said.
Often those who participate in self-harm report feeling better after they hurt themselves. This is because after people have experienced pain and it is removed, they connect with an intense state of euphoria. And people who self-harm had a propensity to tap into this psychological mechanism.
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“Over time, people who engage in self-harm learn to react more favourably to pain because they’ve learned to associate it with pain relief,” Ms Ray said, referencing this short-lived response.
She emphasised that although self-harm may produce a sense of temporary euphoria in the short term, this behaviour differed greatly from other pleasure seeking activities involving pain and should be addressed by a professional.
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