How can one experience pain, either the physical pain of a smack on the tush or the emotional pain of humiliation, as pleasurable? Aren’t pain and pleasure diametrically opposed? The answer, informed by neurobiology, is that the opposite of pleasure isn’t pain but ennui— a lack of interest in sensation and experience.
County Derry, Ireland, 1880. During the 1830s Ireland was awash in alcohol, much of it produced locally in response to high alcohol import taxes imposed by the ruling British government. While many locals were assiduously distilling illegal poitín from potatoes or malted barley, a backlash against alcohol was also growing.
Recently, hundreds of indigenous people staged a protest in front of the US embassy in La Paz Bolivia in which they chewed coca leaf and chanted "Coca es medicina!" The protest was peaceful and good-natured with protestors offering coca leaves to the Bolivian police, some of whom were happy to join in.