Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 251–255 | Cite as

Choosing to Suffer: Reflections on an Enigma

  • Allan S. Berger


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 


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Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2003

Authors and Affiliations

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

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