In The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing, Daniel Bergner turns his journalistic attention to four people who have what your average person would call abnormal desires. (This might be putting it mildly!)
In four profiles — of a foot fetishist, a female sadist, a devotee of amputees, and a pedophile — Bergner attempts, without judgment, to understand what drives these (sometimes tormented) people and what it can tell us about our own desires, whatever they may be on the spectrum of normalcy.
If you decide to approach this book at all — and note, it's not for the faint of heart — you may be like me. I walked away with a surprising amount of compassion for some subjects and not-so-surprising repulsion for others. Want more information? Then
Take the foot fetishist. This married man is afraid of telling his wife his overwhelming desire for feet, a desire he developed in childhood. To give you an idea for how much he's into feet, he can get physically excited, that's right — hard! — just from hearing someone say "feet." One theory for his desire is that it's attached to shame he felt as a child when he couldn't answer his teacher's questions because of his dyslexia. He recalls staring down at feet instead of looking up at his teacher. How complex and counterintuitive is that for the birth of a desire?
The female sadist also works as a designer of latex fashions, employing a slew of willing slaves as her sewing assistants in her basement dungeon. Sound mild? Well, there's the time she actually obliged a man's request to roast him over a pit like a trussed pig. In upstate New York. Um, wow.
If you have a curiosity for extremes in human sexuality and experience, The Other Side of Desire is a fascinating and moving book. You won't be disappointed.