Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure

Paul Martin

Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure

This is a book about the lengths people will go to nuzzle out some pleasure -- and the scientific reasons that lie behind those impulses. Paul Martin looks at changing attitudes to pleasure over the centuries, including religious and philosophical lawgiving on the subject, before moving on to the scientific hardwiring that supports all this human frenzy. He looks too at chemical pleasures, at our attempts to bottle the pleasure-giving principle for easy access and regular self-medication --- from caffeine to heroin, from tobacco to glue. Which brings us to addiction, and the darker side of pleasure's many moons - before coming back full circle to the therapeutic bliss of pleasure, its key role in an individual's health, and that least-promoted, most-undervalued but most satisfying daily pleasure of all -- sweet sleep. 3.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Science & Nature, Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Hardback
Pages 272
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication January 2009
ISBN 978-0007127085
Publisher Fourth Estate
 

This is a book about the lengths people will go to nuzzle out some pleasure -- and the scientific reasons that lie behind those impulses. Paul Martin looks at changing attitudes to pleasure over the centuries, including religious and philosophical lawgiving on the subject, before moving on to the scientific hardwiring that supports all this human frenzy. He looks too at chemical pleasures, at our attempts to bottle the pleasure-giving principle for easy access and regular self-medication --- from caffeine to heroin, from tobacco to glue. Which brings us to addiction, and the darker side of pleasure's many moons - before coming back full circle to the therapeutic bliss of pleasure, its key role in an individual's health, and that least-promoted, most-undervalued but most satisfying daily pleasure of all -- sweet sleep.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Clive Cookson

Biomedical scientists tend to have a rather puritanical, self-righteous feeling that they should study diseases and problems rather than pleasure and happiness. But the mood is beginning to change as more scientists investigate the good things in life. In Sex, Drugs & Chocolate, Paul Martin distils this recent research with some ancient philosophy into a very readable form... Strangely, though, he does not list the pleasure of reading a good book – such as Sex, Drugs & Chocolate.

05/01/2009

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The Guardian

Blake Morrison

The chapters on sex are not without interest - I confess to never having heard of the anal violin before, a 19th-century contraption designed to create erotic vibrations when played in situ. But it's chocolate that stirs the author's passion... The pleasure principle is, on the whole, a sound one, then: having what you like is fine so long as you don't have too much of it in one go. But as a scientist by training, Martin is also keen to explain how the principle works in practice... The neurobiology is complex, but Martin keeps it bracingly simple...

03/01/2009

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The Independent

Peter Forbes

By surveying pleasure-seeking across many cultures and explaining the science behind it, Martin shows how skewed our view of drugs is, familiar but lethal drugs perceived as less harmful than exotic but milder concoctions. Martin reserves especial venom for tobacco: "one of the most pitiful drugs ever discovered". Asked to name the world's favourite drug, most would get it wrong. It's caffeine...

09/01/2009

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The Sunday Times

Nick Rennison

“Pleasure is the only thing worth having a theory about,” remarks Henry Wotton, the urbane wit in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Theories abound in the pages of Paul Martin's enjoyable journey through the advantages and disadvantages of pleasure-seeking. The author travels through some familiar terrain, particularly when he turns to the social history rather than the science of his subject, but he remains an engaging guide.

25/01/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Anthony Holden

Even with such vivid subject matter, Martin has a prose style which is pedestrian to the point of tedium; there is many a moment, amid his impressive assemblage of facts and statistics, at which one aches for an articulate philosopher to take over. But it is hard to disagree with what appears to emerge as his general conclusion: we all get only one life, and – hey, what the heck – it’s our right, if not exactly our duty, to get out there and enjoy it to the full.

28/01/2009

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