Paul Bloom || The Pleasures of Suffering

November 18, 2021

In this episode, I talk to renowned developmental psychologist Paul Bloom about the pleasures of suffering. We start by discussing the value of suffering in pursuit of meaning and make the distinction between unforeseen tragedy and chosen suffering. Paul also elaborates on BDSM and horror as examples of benign masochism⎯activities that people find comfort and enjoyment in despite the experience of fear. We also touch on the topics of meditation, Buddhism, attachment, parenting, and empathy.

Paul Bloom is professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen professor emeritus of psychology at Yale University. His research explores the psychology of morality, identity, and pleasure. Dr. Bloom is the recipient of multiple awards and honors including most recently the million-dollar Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science and for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Atlantic Monthly. He’s the author or editor of eight books including Just Babies, How Pleasure Works, Descartes’ Baby, Against Empathy, and most recently, The Sweet Spot.

Website: paulbloom.net/
Twitter: @paulbloomatyale


  • The Sweet Spot
  • Suffering is necessary to pursue purpose
  • Why we choose to suffer
  • The post-traumatic growth debate
  • Using religion to cope with suffering
  • Heredity, morals, and responsibility in parenting
  • The multiplicity of human motivation
  • Benign masochism in BDSM
  • The calculus of pain and pleasure
  • Do relationships demand bias?
  • Is every bias zero sum?
  • The value of suffering, pain, and horror in imagination


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