As a kid, I had a love hate relationship with Unsolved Mysteries. On one had, it was extremely interesting. What’s going to happen? Who did it? Would they solve it? Was the perpetrator caught. It only dawned on me that many of their mysteries were solved, but it was a better title than “We know who did it but we haven’t caught them yet”.
As an 7–10 year old, Unsolved Mysteries was terrifying. Yet, I could not look away. The soundtrack added to the creepiness. Afterwards, I’d often lay awake at night hoping that whatever had befallen the victims in the show wouldn’t happen to me. Yet, the next week, there I was consuming it again.
Thinking back on how I felt about watching the show, it reminded me of another feeling I’ve had. That is around eating spicy foods. It’s hard for me to tolerate and I sometimes ask after eating too much why I’d do this to myself, I again find myself going back to consuming spicy food. “Why??!!” I think as my face turns red and I stop being able to breathe.
John Wayne sings in Hurt:
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
I don’t think that I don’t feel alive or that only pain is real, but I do think we seek memories and that the peak-end cognitive bias is real. We look for intense experiences that are tolerable so that we can remember and experience things.
That solves this mystery for me.