Chronicle; Self-Torture & Envy

Björnstierne Antonsson

Björnstierne Antonsson

Both of these phenomena can have negative consequences for an individual’s well-being and mental health. Overcoming self-torture and envy may require awareness, self-reflection, and sometimes professional help. [read the full champagne story] 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Min son gazes at me with confusion. Should I once again opt for cross-country skiing over downhill skiing today? Yes, and likely tomorrow, and the day after that, I explain. The boy shakes his head before hoisting his small skis onto his shoulder and heading towards the chairlifts.

I don’t blame him. He was only 10 and still a loyal follower of the path of least resistance. Masochism probably comes with age, I think.

Fifteen minutes later, I have icicles in my beard and fire in my lungs. I grapple with weight transfer, the crucial part of cross-country technique, trying to somehow manage standing on one side at a time. Simple in theory, difficult in practice. In a turn, I am overtaken by a 70-year-old woman who seems to have mastered this balancing act for decades.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with downhill skiing. If the slopes are well-groomed, lift lines short, and the sun is shining, it can be truly enjoyable. But. It’s an activity for self-forgivers. “After a few hours of slalom, one deserves a Weissbier and some melted cheese,” my friend Pierre usually says. But do you really? Deserve a little feast? A goulash, possibly. There’s no contradiction between powder skiing and an ice-cold beer. They are just different points on the pleasure scale.

I have a religious belief that life needs to include microdoses of suffering. Happiness arises in the vacuum between pain and pleasure, in the contrast between before and after. To fully enjoy a reward, the precursor must involve a sufficient amount of self-torture, and in that regard, cross-country skiing is hard to beat. Like the Swedish king Gustav Vasa torturing his gluteus maximus on a 400-meter uphill slope creates the distinct feeling that one deserves a gooey raclette.

Psychology professor Paul Rozin coined the term benign masochism, the enjoyment we derive from imagined threats, like ice bathing, watching horror movies, or skiing up a hill.

The masochistic qualities of cross-country skiing also have another positive side effect. It offers a welcome break from one’s own thoughts. Anxiety about loved ones’ illnesses, impending interest rate hikes, and a declining advertising market don’t penetrate the mind while cheeks are rosy, and thigh muscles are burning.

Welcome to a new and benignly masochistic year with Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin.

Self-Torture and Envy:


  • Definition: Self-torture refers to actions or thought patterns where an individual actively harms themselves physically, mentally, or emotionally. It can take the form of self-destructive behavior, self-criticism, or intentionally exposing oneself to painful situations.
  • Examples: Constantly questioning one’s own achievements, neglecting one’s own needs, or engaging in destructive habits that harm one’s health.


  • Definition: Envy arises when an individual constantly compares themselves to others and feels inadequate or less successful. It can lead to low self-esteem and negative emotions.
  • Examples: Continually measuring one’s own success or appearance against others, feeling jealous or inadequate based on others’ achievements or lifestyles.
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