July 12, 2017

Is pain-avoidance a form of pleasure-seeking?

I'd like an answer (or any analysis — serious or otherwise).

82 comments:

Robert Roy said...

I would say no. Pain avoidance still leaves you in a default state, neither pained nor pleasured. A sort of cruelly neutral gray area. Pleasure seeking attempts to transcend the mundane and fill your mind with the rush of endorphins.

Unless of course you're a modern leftist, in which case trying to avoid the pain of liberal group think is a moral sin akin to those who waste away seeking only pleasure.

Hagar said...

I do not know about "pleasure-seeking," but if your body gives you pain, it is tellinng you that something is wrong and you need to address that rather than take pain-killers and ignore the message.

Laslo Spatula said...

There's an S&M riff in here somewhere.

"Please hurt me."

"No."

"That was great -- do it again!"

Something like that.

I am Laslo.

Unknown said...

I'd say, yes? I certainly feel more pleasure when I'm not in pain. All things considered equally, I'd seek out the activity less likely to cause pain.

Now, there's certainly something to be said to incidental pain that comes as "part of the territory" so to speak with some events--sore muscles after biking on the slick rock in Moab, for instance. But if you knew that you were going to faceplant and break an arm, would you still go biking? Most people would say no. It would have to be a mighty big tradeoff to accept a broken bone for most people.

Then again, there's some masochists out there who enjoy being beaten to a bloody pulp for whatever reason. No idea what motivates those types.

--Vance

John Enright said...

Pain avoidance sounds fearful. Pleasure seeking sounds hopeful. Fear and hope often go hand in hand, but surely they are different.

My name goes here. said...

If you are in pain, and you actively are looking for pleasure to counter act the pain, then probably yes.

If you are not in pain and you are avoiding something because it might cause pain, I would say no.

harrogate said...

For some reason this question reminds me of a wonderful scene in a pretty bad movie. The bad movie is called WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT.

The great scene is when the ex-President, played by Gene Hackman, is taking golf swings while talking to his mayoral rival, played by Ray Romano. Hackman explains that while there is safety in "laying up," he never would have become President that way. There's a real expression of joy that Hackman captures in that scene. Pain avoidance won't get you there

Fernandinande said...

It's just a meaningless word game, but probably "no" since the def'n of "pleasure" doesn't really include a lack of pain.

Unknown said...

only if you believe it's strictly a binary state; in pain or in pleasure. Your cruel neutrality doesn't exist in this question.

Michael K said...

There are a few people who lack the ability to feel pain.

They have very short lives.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's another way to put it: If I observe that I am motivated by pain avoidance, should I consider myself a pleasure seeker?

Kate said...

...Context?

How can avoiding (moving away from) correlate with seeking (moving toward)?

Bay Area Guy said...

I say - close, but not quite.

Pain avoidance and pleasure seeking are two sides of the same coin. The former is passive: Let's not go rock climbing - we might fall and get hurt. I dont want a drivers license at age 16 - I might get into an accident. I won't ask that attractive girl to the Prom - she might say No.

Pleasure seeking, to me, is much more active. It connotes taking risks. Let's try X! Let's try Y! Let's Z!

I'm reminded of the Saturday night in LA in the 80s, when at midnight my friends and I decided to drive our VW van to Tijuana for more fun. That was pleasure seeking which resulted in massive pain acceptance the next day:)


Ralph L said...

They're putting Narcan in the schools here, to stop the stoppage of teenage angst.

Oh, no, let's not park here!
Oh, no, let's not park!
Oh, no, let's not!
Oh, no, let's!
Oh, no!
Oh!
!

Luke Lea said...

I sometimes wonder if pain and pleasure are correlative phenomena, as opposed to separate and independent, so that the amounts we experience over time balance out. You can't enjoy food much unless you get hungry first. Rest feels best after a hard day's work. The beauty of art is often a release from boredom. Etc..

Gahrie said...

take it from someone who has dealt with chronic pain for twenty years...the absence of pain is a pleasure, but one you don't appreciate until it is gone.

Ralph L said...

Laslo needs to tell us about anal sex, but I'm guessing he's never been on that end of the stick.

I suppose there are some people who drink despite knowing they'll be hungover, so they've inverted your question, sort of.

Bay Area Guy said...

AA asks:

"If I observe that I am motivated by pain avoidance, should I consider myself a pleasure seeker?"

I say No.

To achieve the goal of pain avoidance, you must minimize all risk in your life. To me, that sounds like holing up in an apartment all day, watching tv, playing on the Internet, and not doing much else. There won't be much pain, but not much pleasure either.

I think of pleasure seeking as the understanding that action X, may result in pain, but let's do it anyway!



Big Mike said...

Here's another way to put it: If I observe that I am motivated by pain avoidance, should I consider myself a pleasure seeker?

Short answer: no.

Longer answer, the world is full of activities that afford the participant a great deal of pleasure, but where the downside risk of painful injury drives sensible people away.

Daniel Richwine said...

Some believe the best life involves avoiding pain, which is not the same as seeking pleasure. Some believe the best life involves experiencing as much of it as possible, these will accept pain if that is the price of their experiences. Some even seek pain for its own sake as an experience.

In my opinion you can be a pleasure seeker either way, but the true hedonist will be more likely to accept pain as the price for pleasure, so probably no.

rehajm said...

Depends on if the equilibrium state is pain.

sunsong said...

I don't know :-), I think it's probably personal, though pain avoidance seems a natural thing to do. Seeking pain, masochism, is not natural, imo.

Big Mike said...

@Bay Area Guy, I see you and I are on the same page of the hymnal.

Bob Boyd said...

"Here's another way to put it: If I observe that I am motivated by pain avoidance, should I consider myself a pleasure seeker?"

Not if it pains you.

CStanley said...

I'd say no because the neural pathways for pain and pleasure are different.

policraticus said...

If pleasure is what you are seeking in avoiding pain, then yes.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Marquis De Fuck says...

Is the absence of pain to be considered pleasure?

Is the absence of pleasure to be considered pain?

What feeling describes the absence of feeling?

Oh, to remove the aching tooth to experience the absence of pain! Is there not the littlest pleasure in running one's tongue over the hole that remains?

People: I have much to teach you as I drip the hot candle wax of knowledge upon your naked breasts...

I am Laslo.

Lyle Smith said...

It probably is. It is a pleasure to not suffer mentally or physically, and if you purposely seek it out or arrange your life around it, sure, you are pleasure-seeking.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Music is my aeroplane.

Hagar said...

You may have to accept living with some physical pain - or even quite severe pain. It is still preferable to usinng painkillers that also mess with your brain.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Marquis De Fuck says...

Can there be pleasure in the soul when there is pain in the body?

Does pleasure in the body cause the soul pain?

In the absence of pain and pleasure what is left?

What does God feel as he watches the little sparrows fall? The most despairing answer would be that He feels nothing at all!

Knowing this, would the one-armed man masturbate with a freshly-burned hand?

People: I have much to teach you as I drip the hot candle wax of knowledge upon your naked breasts...

I am Laslo.

Bay Area Guy said...

Pain avoidance often devolves into pleasure avoidance.

Pleasure seeking often results in mucho pain acceptance.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What kind of pain? Physical or Emotional?

Hit yourself in the head with a hammer pain? Cut your finger? Sit in the wrong chair all day and have a backache? Physical pain.

Or the pain that comes from being in bad relationships? Being harassed, insulted, demeaned etc.? Beating yourself up emotionally? The heart break of not being loved as you love?

There is a big difference between physical pain and emotional pain. Avoiding physical pain is just common sense. It is survival and has nothing to do with seeking pleasure. Being in physical pain means something is wrong! Not being in pain can be nice, but it is also the base state, (default position as stated by Rob Roy), of the human and animal condition. Only deranged people seek out pain.

Avoiding emotional pain is likewise a survival strategy. You cannot concentrate on or be able to analyze the reality around you if you are in emotional pain. Your perceptions are clouded and distorted and you will make bad decisions.

So. No. The absence of pain or seeking the avoidance of is not pleasure seeking. Not being in pain is a survival strategy that is the goal of humans, cats and dogs alike.

Pleasure seeking is something else entirely. Some badly wired people seek pain for pleasure. Others find pleasure in harmful things like drugs and alcohol. Others find pleasure in watching a hummingbird in the garden.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Marquis De Fuck says...

If we were to experience pain as joy how would our lives change?

Would we joyously press forward with abandon, or would we wallow in a sea of pleasurable injuries?

If there is a killer on the road, is his mind squirming like a toad from the pain of his deeds, or the pleasure? Oh, the sweet, sweet mute nostril agony!

People: I have much to teach you as I drip the hot candle wax of knowledge upon your naked breasts...

I am Laslo.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Only when one contemplates the absence of pain and gets an uplifting feeling is pain-avoidance a form of pleasure. If one doesn't contemplate the absence of pain there is no pleasure attained.

The phrase "there but for the grace of God go I" can give one some pleasure, especially if the mentioned God's grace was in allowing the individual to see the wisdom in choosing a less-painful path than the person in the situation where God's grace is seemingly lacking to our limited understanding.

Schadenfreude is a great term for this discussion as the pleasure taken from other's or others' pain is in great part because the other guy(s) didn't avoid the pain we with the schadenfreude did, a pain derived from that which varies vastly between righteous comeuppance or just plain old bad luck.

Bob Boyd said...

When you avoid something painful, what do you do instead?
For example if you decide not to go for a run do you then have a snack instead?

urbane legend said...

Robert Roy said...
I would say no. Pain avoidance still leaves you in a default state, neither pained nor pleasured. A sort of cruelly neutral gray area. Pleasure seeking attempts to transcend the mundane and fill your mind with the rush of endorphins.

This. I don't see the cruelly neutral, however, just neutral.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

Laslo, you didn't work in the dog without a boner.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Thus, when I say Liberals are traumatized by the techniques I will describe, I do not mean they are merely bothered or uncomfortable. Rather, I mean they will experience a gut wrenching, neurological upset, the likes of which a Conservative can only vaguely imagine.

My observations elsewhere indicate that almost all ardent Liberal ideologues suffer from similar damage to some extent, even if not as severe. Indeed, I believe that the very neurological deficiency producing Liberalism is what facilitates the effectiveness of these techniques. The embrace of Liberalism is a direct attempt to shield these vulnerable structures from stimulation, so as to avoid the adverse consequences this stimulation would produce." - http://www.anonymousconservative.com/blog/touching-the-raw-amygdala-part-i-foundational-understandings/

According to Althouse the name calling and virtue signaling by the proggies here on her site are pleasureable for them because they keep at it but they avoid the amygdala hijack conservatives argue every day they need to psychologically confront in order to avoid internal chaos. So maybe proggies take a lot of pleasure in the absence of pain and others don't as much.

Peter said...

Saint Thomas Aquinas writes that "just as all repose of the body brings relief to any kind of weariness, ensuing from any non-natural cause; so every pleasure brings relief by assuaging any kind of sorrow, due to any cause whatever."


http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2038.htm#article1

whswhs said...

When I studied post-Aristotelian classical philosophy, we learned about the idea of ataraxia: The relief of felt pain, deprivation, dissatisfaction, or unease. The Epicurean philosophy was based on treating all of these as conceptually equivalent, and on equating this relief with "pleasure." Similar concepts can be found in utilitarianism (from which it got into marginalist economics and is now part of orthodox economic theory) and in Buddhism. Note that both the Epicureans and the Buddhists recommended moderation in all things, holding that intense pleasure implied intense deprivation.

Not all ethical theories assume this! Not only is there the difference between pain and pleasure physiologically, but beyond that, living organisms mostly are spontaneously active. A well fed cat, if alllowed to go outside, will often hunt and kill birds or rodents, but not even attempt to eat them. It's not a question of acting to gain the relief of hunger; it's a question of acting to gain the satisfaction of acting. Of course you can say that the cat is deprived of the activity of hunting, but that seems to be turning the whole matter into a tautology: We see someone acting, so we define something about the action as a privation that is belng relieved, even if the only privation is of the action itself. But really, action for its own sake is different from action for the sake of escaping pain or even action for the sake of obtaining rewards. And a lot of human activity falls under this heading, including art, athletics, games, and scientific research. A focus on this kind of activity can be found in other ethical theories, from those of Aristotle to those of Nietzsche.

The political aspect of this is that relieving pain, or granting external rewards, can be done for you by someone else. It's possible to envision a social arrangement that hands out "benefits" to everyone, and makes sure that everyone gets a fair share, in the manner that Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and John Rawls favored. But no external social structure can provide you with the satisfaction of action for its own sake; you have to create that for yourself. So there's a separate political value in setting people free to act, to the fullest extent possible.

Laslo Spatula said...

Talking seriously about subjects like this inevitably leads to sensible people sounding like Jim Fucking Morrison.

When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
Awkward instant
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
Poise
Delicate
Pause
Consent
In mute nostril agony
Carefully refined
And sealed over

Yep. That covers it.

I am Laslo.

wwww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O said...

Pain avoidance in the context of experiencing pain can be pleasure seeking.

Pain avoidance in the context of non-pain is avoiding-pain seeking.

Lance said...

No. Pain and pleasure are both stimulated emotions. One can simultaneously experience both or neither. Pain is not the absence of pleasure, nor is pleasure the absence of pain.

Michael K said...

the neural pathways for pain and pleasure are different.

We are hard wired for pain. Every centimeter of skin has pain fibers.

Pleasure is central. There are no pleasure neurons outside the brain.

It is possible to stimulate the pleasure areas of the brain so that the animal will ignore food and water and seek pleasure.

That's why cocaine is so dangerous.

Virgil Hilts said...

Beers & a steak never taste better than after a grueling 9 mile hike through desert mountains, even though last few miles are painful. No massage feels as good as one after a hard/painful workout. TV is never as enjoyable as after an exhausting and intense and painfully stressful 12 hour day. To avoid pain is to live w/o intensity. One thing that makes me sad about my mother (in her 90s) is that she has probably never once since she was a teenager tried to run as fast as she can.

Molly said...

If we think of pleasure-pain as a spectrum running along a line from left (unbearable pain) to right (pure pleasure); then we could define a behavior based on the principle, "always choose the option that puts you as far to the right as possible" as either pain avoidance or pleasure seeking. If the choice is between (say) a neutral option (the mid point) and a painful option (to the left of center), the above principle dictates choosing the neutral option (pain avoidance. If the choice is between a neutral option and a pleasurable option (to the right of center), the above principle dictates choosing the pleasurable option (pleasure seeking). Other choices (both to the right, both the left, one to the left and one to the right) perhaps cause linguistic confusion, but the application of the principle always gives an obvious choice, no matter what you call it.

No doubt, some will object that we can't know where two choices fall on the spectrum or whether or not a more multi-dimensional decision space is needed. But within this context of pain and pleasure on a single spectrum, there is no logical distinction between pleasure seeking and pain avoidance.

joshbraid said...

Since they exercise different physiological mechanisms, pain is not the absence of pleasure or vice versa. The seeking of pleasure to avoid pain is called addiction

Ralph L said...

Virgil, she could be now.

Sebastian said...

Depends on what the meaning of pleasure is. If it is simply the equivalent of utility or any preference realization, the distinction is moot. Even then, you can distinguish between loss and gain, and treat pain as the rough equivalent of loss--which on balance we try to avert much more eagerly. But in practice most people do make a pain(avoidance)/pleasure(seeking) distinction, even when they seek pleasure in pain, so the pragmatic answer is no.

Ann Althouse said...

You can emphasize, instead of "pain" and "pleasure," "avoidance" and "seeking."

Seeking means you go out looking for what you don't have, while avoidance seems inactive (as many of the comments so far are saying). And yet, avoidance can be active. Running away from trouble is avoidant. Arming oneself against what causes pain could be active. When I go for a walk, I could be thinking, I must keep active, lest my body go into decline. Or I could be thinking, I love the feeling of moving through the beautiful world.

I don't think it's just an active/passive distinction. There are passive things you do that are motivated by the desire for pleasure, such as sleeping late or staying in a chair and continuing to watch television. So I'm not that into my seeking/avoiding idea here. I think pleasure/pain should be the focus. If your idea of pleasure is that nothing is a high standard, i.e., that the avoidance of pain is a high level of pleasure, then attending to pain avoidance is pleasure seeking.

Another larger perspective view of the question is whether you are oriented to getting more or whether you generally think that less is more. Do you acquire more stuff in your pursuit of the good life or do you think decluttering and simplification would be better? Do you want more things to do, filling up your calendar, or would you rather free up as much time as possible?

We're frequently confronted with the additive mode, but the subtractive mode may be superior. If you are already oriented to the subtractive mode, you might be lured into feeling that you are missing out and that you're not living life to the fullest, not being pleasure-seeking enough. But one solution is to view the avoidance of pain as a great acquisition of pleasure.

Browndog said...

Is the lack of pain a state of pleasure?

I think not.

I'd think avoiding pain is inherently instinctive; how much 'seeking' can there be?

sparrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sparrow said...

"Here's another way to put it: If I observe that I am motivated by pain avoidance, should I consider myself a pleasure seeker?"

The absence of a negative does not equate to the presence of a positive. It does have similar downstream effects in that a person is presumably happier as result of both, but that does not mean they equate. Biochemical enzymatic reactions often have inhibitors and inducers. Removing the inhibitor and increasing the inducer both increase throughput, but these are distinct mechanisms effected by distinct proteins or cofactors.

In this case pain avoidance is simply achieving a resting state where one doesn't suffer. It does not exclude ordinary stresses like physical labor, which need not be painful but may not be pleasurable either. By contrast pleasure seeking (I read it as negative here) is an active pursuit of an enhanced experience above any resting or modest/nonpainful work related stress. I don't understand why they would be conflated in the first place, except that pleasure and pain both act as motivators.

Guildofcannonballs said...

No pain no gain: discuss.

Reference Arnold.

Ray said...

Procrastination- avoidance of perceived future pain, which gives pleasure.

Ralph L said...

Is the lack of pain a state of pleasure?
I think not.

You've obviously never had a good case of shingles. Get the vaccine.
In the middle of over 2 years, the one month without spinal pain keeping me awake was heaven. Slept 10-12 hours a day.

M Trumble said...

Well, consider people who smoke. On one hand, it can be argued that there is some, small pleasure in the act of smoking, but it quickly goes beyond that, as any smoker will tell you, and becomes not about the pleasure of smoking, but avoiding the discomfort of withdrawal.

It is a fear that is always with the smoker--Do I have my cigarettes? Do I have a lighter? Will there be a place to smoke? How long is the flight?

Quayle said...

I think not. I think that if there is a connection between pleasure seeking and pain it is between pleasure seeking and pain retention, or in other words, pain retention can be a form of a pleasure which people don’t' want to give up.

Why wouldn't anyone want to give up pain?

There are a few reasons, of which I can think:

1. Their pain is a necessary component of their self-image, or a necessary prop in the story they are telling themselves about life, and their place in that story.

2. Related to 1 - their pain justifies their non-connecting behavior towards one or more other people, or their tantrum at feeling not sufficiently nurtured or taken care of by that other person.

3. A failure of imagination. They've known pain all their lives and can't imagine a life without it. It is home. It may not be comfortable, but it is their discomfort.

4. They can see it, they can feel it, they don't want it, but they honestly don't know how to get rid of it. It comes, seemingly, out of the depths of their heart and soul - like some toxic sludge which oozes out of the center of their being - and they don't know how to shut off the valve.

5. They prefer the pain they have to some other pain of which they don't know, or of which they are more afraid.

Anyway, just some thoughts. In these ways, holding on to pain is either the direct pleasure, or the impetus for other pleasure seeking.

Now, having said all of that – I’ll cut to the chase and say that my wife is a pain avoider par excellence. And with her, it is a motivating force – almost to the point of a pleasure – to frontload the unpleasant tasks and leave the future free to enjoy. If we get home from a vacation and there is anything she needs to do tomorrow morning, she’ll do it that night to leave tomorrow free. She is the ultimate necessary burden assumer – front loader.

David said...

No. It's a form of retreat and isolation from the pleasures of life. Many of the greatest pleasures come with risk--indeed often certainty--of pain. The pleasures of love are the best example. Allowing yourself to love something, at least something animate, guarantees loss and pain. The love may die. The love object may die or become absent. It's unavoidable. Ditto nearly all physical pleasures. They involve risk of physical or emotional pain. Thus the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. No pleasure without risk of pain. Mother Nature (human nature) is quite the Bitch.

traditionalguy said...

Old Legalist's game is to cause themselves pain in hopes they will survive it and get to take the quitters marbles home.

Old aphorism is about the guy who would hit himself over the head with a hammer, because it felt so good when he stopped.

sunsong said...

One good thing about music ~ when it hits you
you feel no pain."

~ Bob Marley

n.n said...

A lie is a truth prematurely told.

Wilbur said...

As a child, when I would fall and scrape open a huge abrasion on a limb, my father would comfort me with "As soon as that quits hurting, it'll feel good".

Ann Althouse said...

"We are hard wired for pain. Every centimeter of skin has pain fibers. Pleasure is central. There are no pleasure neurons outside the brain."

Is there a trick in this somehow? Do fibers = neurons? We have a sense of touch. Are you saying that touching only registers as pleasure because of an interpretation that occurs in the brain?

Ann Althouse said...

"Beers & a steak never taste better than after a grueling 9 mile hike through desert mountains, even though last few miles are painful. No massage feels as good as one after a hard/painful workout. TV is never as enjoyable as after an exhausting and intense and painfully stressful 12 hour day. To avoid pain is to live w/o intensity. One thing that makes me sad about my mother (in her 90s) is that she has probably never once since she was a teenager tried to run as fast as she can."

Maybe this explains why I'm never in the mood to watch television anymore.

buwaya said...

It seems to me that in biology pain came first.

Lower animals feel pain, its easy to experimentally prove that, even a worms nervous system transmits problem notifications, but pleasure seems to be a higher order, more complex phenomenon. Its not difficult to show that a cat feels pleasure, but a wasp?

Humans are maybe too complex to untangle pain responses systematically. There is pain-pain, that is worm-level signals. Bite your lip or get burned accidentally, and that is pain-pain. The rest, pain is just a mcguffin, an object which the brain includes in some strange games.

buwaya said...

"Are you saying that touching only registers as pleasure because of an interpretation that occurs in the brain?'

Yes, probably. Context is everything. Is it a pleasure to be touched by someone or something from which you don't welcome the touch? Flies are generally unwelcome I think, no matter where they touch. But its the same sensor system involved as pleasurable touch.

n.n said...

No. An analogy would be Pro-Choice is equivalent to Pro-Life. There's an intersection, but there is also, a remarkable, divergence.

Or avoiding death is equivalent to pursuing life.

SukieTawdry said...

If I observe that I am motivated by pain avoidance, should I consider myself a pleasure seeker?

I suppose you should if you're an Epicurean. The alleviation or cessation of severe pain can induce a kind of euphoria. But I'm not necessarily seeking such exhilaration, only an end to the pain. For me, thank the gods, an absence of pain is my normal state so the Epicurean would say that my normal state is pleasure, but I don't really buy that. There are any number of tasks one must perform in the course of day (like cleaning toilets or paying bills or interviewing contractors) that induce neither pain nor pleasure (although there is pleasure in completing the task). For example, Christmas shopping at the mall for me is not painful but neither is it pleasurable. However, I can experience pleasure along the way: an interesting encounter, a beautiful display, a flash mob singing carols, coming across the perfect gift, a time-out for Irish coffee.

While I don't generally regard the absence of pain as pleasure, an absence of pain certainly enhances the possibility of pleasure.

C Stanley said...

Maybe this explains why I'm never in the mood to watch television anymore.

Nah, more likely it's because most TV is crap.

Jake said...

sometimes

Lem said...

Only if sleeping counts as pleasure seeking.

Ralph L said...

Are you saying that touching only registers as pleasure because of an interpretation that occurs in the brain
I read somewhere that some people with Autism have areas of their body that don't register pleasure like most people do. That would be a bummer, depending on the area. Rainman felt a kiss as wet.

traditionalguy said...

Another observation is that pain is what proves we are alive. Personally, I like to take that for granted. Pleasure also comes from hearing Mozart's music or seeing great artist's works. Inside the Nervous system or not begs the question...unless we are disembodied spirits.

Ann Althouse said...

"Only if sleeping counts as pleasure seeking."

Being asleep doesn't, but rolling over and going back to sleep does.

Ann Althouse said...

Also: You could be pleasure seeking in dreams. If you have a lucid dream, and you know you can do anything, what do you do, clean up the newly discovered rooms in your house or find someone to have sex with?

Cheryl said...

I have taken up a wide variety of athletic pursuits as an adult, things like skiing, horseback riding, and various shotgun sports. The thing they all have in common (and now, it seems to me, in common with tons of other sports) is that you go where you look. For example, if I'm jumping my horse and look down at the jump, I'll end up flat on my bum beside the jump. Your question is similar. If you are focused on avoiding pain, you're still focused on the pain. So I would say that no, pain avoidance is not pleasure-seeking.

openidname said...

Nope. Google "avoidant personality disorder."

Winston Smith said...

How about: no, but both are instances of a single, more general phenomenon...which has no name that I know of, but if we cared a lot we might be able to scrape one up, or describe it perspicuously?