It Hurts So Good - Men's Health

This week, we’re highlighting one of those great equalizers in the human experience: pain. 

Open up the September 2014 issue of Men’s Health in the Next Issue app, and explore the biology behind why we feel pain, the full report on a deadly (and painful) virus, and an interview with a man who’s never known what pain actually feels like.

But what about another type of pain—the pain we inflict on ourselves? Risking our lives for survival is no longer necessary, so a striking number of people will venture straight up to the edge of intolerability, all for one moment of post-fear euphoria.

Here, seven Men’s Health examples of the phenomenon known as “benign masochism,” from least to most extreme.

1. The box-office success of Saw (and six sequels) proves that sometimes, all audiences need is an all out gore-fest to satisfy our masochistic tendencies. 

2. Thrill rides continue to compete for the titles of tallest, longest, and fastest. The fastest roller coaster today? 149 mph. 

3. About 23% of Americans have at least one tattoo. Just for some perspective, getting inked only ranks 4th out of 20 painful experiences on Johns Hopkins University’s “wheel of misery.” 

The Great Wheel of Misery - Men's Health

4. Fear Factor is now in its seventh season, with no shortage of Americans lining up to face their biggest fears head on. Warning: Wait until well after lunchtime to watch this “rat bobbing” challenge. 

5. More than 1.3 million people have actually paid to endure the Tough Mudder, willfully submitting to obstacles like “Electroshock Therapy.”

6. Ted Barrus, affectionately known as the “Fire Breathing Idiot,” attempts to eat the Guinness Book of World Record’s hottest chili…and vomits in a Twilight puke bucket.  (Will he overcome 7 other contestants at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo? Men’s Health has the results). 

7. The men of Jackass give “benign masochism” an entirely new meaning. (Can we even count their antics as benign?) As Steve-O explains, “I’m the guy who says, ‘I know the world is terrible. But watch me throw myself off a roof!'”

Whew! Check out Men’s Health for more on Ted Barrus, Steve-O, and other “kings of pain.” Not a subscriber yet? Sign up for your 30 day FREE trial.