I have occasionally been curious about body modification. This undoubtedly comes from my own experience with body modification in the 1960s. To be sure this has become a far more sophisticated art since I pierced my left earlobe at a gathering of the tribe in the mid-1960s.
My only anesthetic was an advanced state of intoxication and, as I recall, I was trying to impress a young, blonde dancer with my desire to have an earring in the fashion of the time. I already had hair to my shoulders and the next step had to be a piercing. I found a large safety pin and began the piercing while sitting on the stairs as The Doors played “Light My Fire.”
It hurt, and then stopped hurting. I realized that ear lobe pain levels off at a certain point. It was either the conduction capacity of the nerves or the effect of natural endorphins blocking the impulses. Endorphins are natural opioids that produce analgesia and a euphoria.
This altered state of consciousness undoubtedly drives many contemporary modifiers to a higher plane. Sebastian-Horsley, while not a body modifier in the contemporary sense, nevertheless had himself crucified (yes, with nails) in the Philippines for art and undoubtedly to follow a personal pilgrimage to enlightenment.