Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 251–255

Choosing to Suffer: Reflections on an Enigma

  • Allan S. Berger

DOI: 10.1023/A:1024843702805

Cite this article as:
Berger, A.S. Journal of Religion and Health (2003) 42: 251. doi:10.1023/A:1024843702805


Most people pursue pleasure and seek to avoid pain. Some individuals, however, choose a life characterized by pain and suffering. The author describes the most common varieties of such behavior patterns: asceticism, martyrdom, penance and masochism. Critical psychodynamics are discussed and the author proposes a synthesis of the motivation underlying pain/suffering seeking behavior.

suffering asceticism martyrdom penance masochism 

Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan S. Berger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryGeorgetown University School of MedicineWashington, D.C

Personalised recommendations