Body Suspension

Chilling differently - Body Suspension as an extreme Way of Piercing

Body suspensions are a form of body art, in which a person is suspended by the help of temporary piercings. In Germany there are only about five crews that carry out this type of piercing. How does this ritual takes place and what drives people to let hang themselves from meat hooks?

Suspensions go back to an ancient Indian initiation ritual. The Oglala Sioux called it "sun dance", the Mandan "O-Kee-Pa". Medicine men disguised themselves as demons and pierced young men of their tribe wooden stakes through the skin and hung them up. The subsequent loss of consciousness was considered as a symbolic death. Who then passed this exam was awarded a warrior name. For the young men a new phase of life began.

Nowadays, the motives for suspensions are not to find in initiation rites. Erich Kasten, professor of psychology at the Medical School Hamburg, explains: "People do not do that based on sexual or masochistic reasons." The people who let suspend themselves are rather on sensation search ("sensation seeking"). As with extreme sports, the increased adrenaline is just one reason, as well as the expansion of consciousness and the associated body experience.

Often crews meet in a relaxed atmosphere on factory floors or to summer camps in the great outdoors. It is talked, drank and chilled beer. Nevertheless, the effort is enormous. Strict hygiene is very important. The piercer wears plastic gloves that are changed frequently. About ten small, thick meat hooks are always mounted in pairs in back and thighs. Once the hooks are pierced, the climbing equipment consisting of carabiners and ropes gets attached. Once the body flyer hangs, her or his "sensation" begins: The body releases stress hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol rush through her or his veins. The pupils dilate, breathing becomes rapid and flat. After about ten minutes there happens what all body flyers let repeat this procedure over and over again: endorphins flood the body! The body flyer dangles relaxed on the suspension and swings gently. The whole procedure takes about half an hour. And as strange as it may seem, the person dangling on the hook, swarms about this flying experience. Most people do it again sometime.

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