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“Hurts So Good: The Science & Culture of Pain on Purpose”

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Monday, September 20, 2021 - 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm | Cost: FREE

Event Details

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Join us on Monday, September 20 at 6pm PT when Leigh Cowart discusses their book, Hurts So Good: The Science & Culture of Pain on Purpose, with Ashley Paige!

Zoom Registration

Praise for Hurts So Good

“Cowart has endless compassion for humans trying to find meaning and purpose while trapped in our fallible meat sacks. Hurts So Good is funny, explicit, and oddly wholesome.”—Caitlin Doughty, author of the New York Times bestseller Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

“It’s testament to Leigh Cowart’s skill and charm that a book about pain should feel so joyful, that a deeply taboo subject should get such a bright and vivid airing, and that experiences that should induce winces instead trigger laughs and moments of deep profundity. Hurts So Good is a book of wonderful paradoxes—a rich, hilarious, and endlessly fascinating look at a world that most of us know but few of us understand.”
—Ed Yong, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of I Contain Multitudes

“A thorough examination of a widely-shared human experience. Cowart blends memoir with research and observation deftly, and boldly shares the gritty details of her own sensation-seeking body. Relevant to anyone seeking to understand their own relationship with physicality. A must-read for those of us who find ourselves trying to explain so many complex things about our relationships to pain.”
—Stoya, writer and pornographer

About Hurts So Good

An exploration of why people all over the world love to engage in pain on purpose–from dominatrices, religious ascetics, and ultramarathoners to ballerinas, icy ocean bathers, and sideshow performers

Masochism is sexy, human, reviled, worshipped, and can be delightfully bizarre. Deliberate and consensual pain has been with us for millennia, encompassing everyone from Black Plague flagellants to ballerinas dancing on broken bones to competitive eaters choking down hot peppers while they cry. Masochism is a part of us. It lives inside workaholics, tattoo enthusiasts, and all manner of garden variety pain-seekers.

At its core, masochism is about feeling bad, then better—a phenomenon that is long overdue for a heartfelt and hilarious investigation. And Leigh Cowart would know: they are not just a researcher and science writer—they’re an inveterate, high-sensation seeking masochist. And they have a few questions: Why do people engage in masochism? What are the benefits and the costs? And what does masochism have to say about the human experience?

By participating in many of these activities themselves, and through conversations with psychologists, fellow scientists, and people who seek pain for pleasure, Cowart unveils how our minds and bodies find meaning and relief in pain—a quirk in our programming that drives discipline and innovation even as it threatens to swallow us whole.

About Leigh Cowart

Leigh Cowart is a researcher and journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed News, Hazlitt, Longreads, Vice, and other outlets. Before becoming a journalist, Cowart was immersed in academia, doing research on subjects like sexual dimorphism in leaf-nosed bats, and resource allocation in flowers. They live in Asheville, NC.

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Cost: FREE
Categories: Literature, Online