That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion [NOOK Book]

Overview

“A lively look at all things revolting.”—New York Times


Why do we watch horror movies? What is the best way to persuade someone to quit smoking? Why are we more likely to buy a given item if an attractive person has just touched it? And what on earth is the appeal of competitive eating?



In this lively, colorful new book, Rachel Herz ...
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That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion

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Overview

“A lively look at all things revolting.”—New York Times


Why do we watch horror movies? What is the best way to persuade someone to quit smoking? Why are we more likely to buy a given item if an attractive person has just touched it? And what on earth is the appeal of competitive eating?



In this lively, colorful new book, Rachel Herz answers these questions and more, shedding light on an incredible range of human traits—from food preferences and sexual attraction to moral codes and political ideology—by examining them through the lens of a fascinating subject: disgust. One of the most complex human emotions, disgust is the product of both culture and instinct and so it allows us a unique perspective on the relationship between nature and nurture. A component of fear and prejudice, it also gives us powerful—sometimes disturbing—insights into the fabric of society.



Herz draws on the latest psychological studies and neurological research to offer surprising observations about human behavior and biology. For example, we learn that a man’s scent matters more than his looks or his income in determining whether or not a given woman will find him attractive, that lust and disgust activate the same area of the brain, and that watching a gory movie triggers your immune system as if you were facing an actual threat. We even learn that washing your hands after thinking about a past misdeed—a la Lady Macbeth—can help you feel less guilty.



What makes That’s Disgusting so remarkable is Herz’s ability to weave these curious findings and compelling facts into a narrative that tackles important questions. What matters more: our brain wiring or our upbringing? Is there such a thing as “normal”? And how might politicians and marketers use disgust to manipulate us?



Combining lucid scientific explanations and fascinating research with a healthy dose of humor, That’s Disgusting illuminates issues that are central to our lives: love, hate, fear, empathy, prejudice, humor, and happiness.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

We all know the sensation: We open the refrigerator and wince instantly at the smell of rancid food. Or we shiver involuntarily at the sight of a gory scene on a DVD. Repulsion is such a universal response that few of us ponder its cause or its use. Rachel Herz, the author of this book previously explored more alluring emotions in The Scent of Desire. Now she turns her attention to what repulses us.

Vicki Powers

Robin Marantz Henig
…a lively look at all things revolting…[Herz] manages…to be vivid and true to her subject without getting so revolting that her readers react the way we react to anything that disgusts us, which is by trying to get as far away as possible.
—The New York Times Book Review
Becky Krystal
Herz seems to have a perfect example for nearly every type of disgust you can imagine: sexual, medical, gustatory, etc. Her strengths as a researcher and author are apparent in her ability to cite and explain academic studies in a conversational manner.
—The Washington Post
Nature
“In her lively tour of vileness, Herz argues that disgust is in the mind of the beholder.”
New Scientist
“Leaves you contemplating how your own sense of disgust may be manipulated, or even overcome.”
Washington Post
[Herz's] strength as a researcher and author are apparent in her ability to cite and explain academic studies in a conversational manner.— Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal - Washington Post
“[Herz's] strength as a researcher and author are apparent in her ability to cite and explain academic studies in a conversational manner.”
Robin Marantz Henig
“...[Herz] manages it quite admirably: to be vivid and true to her subject without getting so revolting that her readers react the way we react to anything that disgusts us, which is by trying to get as far away as possible.”
Nature
“In her lively tour of vileness, Herz argues that disgust is in the mind of the beholder.”
Library Journal
An expert on smell, Herz (psychiatry, Brown Univ.; The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell) leads a tour of off-putting stimuli that reach us mainly through sight, smell, touch, and taste. Her focus is the last emotion to develop of the universal six: fear, anger, sadness, happiness, surprise, and disgust. Feeling disgust and recognizing it in others helps us avoid accidents, contamination, and other dangers. Sometimes it misfires, e.g., we react more to harmless spiders than to mosquitoes and flies. The brain locus of disgust is now known, as is the absence of this normal reaction in obsessive compulsives, psychopaths, and those with the gene for Huntington's disease. Herz reports many examples of crime, politics, and policy but not the grossness of war and resultant post-traumatic stress disorder. VERDICT Not for the squeamish. A lively, quotable survey of how a specific emotion works for and against our benefit. Accessible to general readers, but the book could be better organized and more clearly written.—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
Herz (Psychology/Brown Univ.; The Scent of Desire, 2007) examines the strange world of disgust and discovers that, to a large extent, it's all in the mind of the beholder. "The emotion of disgust is universal," writes the author, "but it is not innate; disgust has to be learned and is subject to a myriad of influences." If the most elemental purpose of disgust is to engender an avoidance of rotten and toxic food, it mostly arises from our cultural heritage and those pockets of the brain that remind us of our mortality and animalistic selves. Herz closely hews to current research on disgust, but she also salts the narrative with anecdotal material and intriguing vignettes, which gives the book a high entertainment factor as she wades through the scientific matter. The author tackles aspects of both physical and moral disgust and convincingly finds in them a protective impulse--"disgust is a type of fear--a special type of fear that evolved to help us evade a slow and uncertain death by disease." Moral disgust is a more slippery character, with all the illogical reasons we deploy to find something immoral, though Herz suggests that moral repulsion isn't only a threat: "More abstractly, but just as ominous, being around the badness of immoral people might sully your inner, spiritual self or soul." She touches down on food and lust, self-empathy and how disgust piques our curiosity of that ultimate mystery, death. Finally, she notes that disgust is a luxury, an embarrassment of our riches: When survival is at stake, we will eat anything, mate with anyone and enlist anyone's support. "The greatest pleasures are only narrowly separated from disgust," said Cicero. In this multifaceted book, Herz expertly walks that tightrope.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393083347
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/25/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 745,421
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Rachel Herz is a psychologist specializing in smell and emotion. She teaches at Brown University, is a professional consultant, and serves as an expert witness in court cases. The author of The Scent of Desire, she lives in Rhode Island.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Let's Eat 1

2 A Snapshot of Disgust 28

3 Disgust on the Brain 58

4 Germ Warfare 77

5 Disgust Is Other People 102

6 Horror Show 132

7 Lust and Disgust 156

8 Law and Order 184

9 Disgust Lessons 210

Acknowledgments 235

Notes 237

Illustration Credits 263

Index 265

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Ash

    Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwww Phoenix!!!!! How could Rachelle do this to you?????

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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