Danger: Our Quest for Excitement by Michael Apter

By Michael Apter

Why can we decelerate to examine automobile injuries? Why may wealthy humans shoplift? What attracts humans to parachuting, army provider, and sadistic intercourse? those are only a number of the questions this e-book unravels in its research of our paradoxical liking of hazard.

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Sample text

On each morning of the week-long festival the six bulls that are to be fought that evening are run through the streets from their corral on the edge of town to the bullring in the center—a distance of nearly a kilometer (about two-thirds of a mile). Much of the route is bounded by the walls of houses and shops; elsewhere, temporary barricades are erected. 076 22/08/2006 48 12:41 PM Page 48 DANGER are many thousands of spectators, including photographers and television crews. The interest, of course, is not just in the bulls.

This is more obviously true of a range of jobs, such as mining, offshore fishing, and deep-sea diving, than it is of surgery. And it is particularly obvious in such extremely risky professions as troubleshooting in oil fields, and bomb disposal. For people to be able to enjoy and continue to practice such occupations it must be possible for them to experience much of what they do in the excitement-seeking state, and to see their work for much of the time within a protective frame. For example, a Canadian troubleshooter who puts out fires in oil fields and caps pipeline blowouts told a reporter that there is “not a serious risk.

Imagine skiing downhill. Point A would represent seeing a hazard, feeling anxiety, avoiding the hazard, and then feeling excitement. Point B would represent seeing a hazard, feeling anxiety, falling down and being hurt, getting up, continuing, and eventually feeling excitement again. 076 22/08/2006 12:41 PM Page 43 DANGER’S DELIGHT 43 is to spend as much time as possible on the excitement side of the frame, and as little as possible on the anxiety side. People who indulge in risky activities must have continuing expectations that they will be able to achieve this, otherwise they would presumably not continue.

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