Is pleasure selfish and are we selfish to pursue it, scientifically speaking?'I know the ways of pleasure, the sweet strains,The lullings and relishes of it' George HerbertThis is a book about the lengths people will go to nuzzle out some pleasure - and the scientific reasons that lie behind those impulses, written in an accessible and entertaining way. 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.