November 15, 2011

Review - That's Disgusting (Rachel Herz)

What do you find disgusting? Let me rephrase the question. Ever wondered why your own spit doesn't bother you, but if someone spits at you you're disgusted? Or how about feeling like you might have to throw up when you see an accident and there's someone lying on the street with a severed limb, yet you're thrilled when someone gets butchered in a horror movie?
Drawing on research in psychology and evolutionary biology, Rachel Herz presents fascinating and informative insights in her book That's Disgusting. While most of us know that disgust originated to prevent people from eating poisonous food, making it a survivalist emotion, it is in fact very complex, highly individual, and shaped by the culture we grew up in. And unlike other emotions disgust is not innate, but an instinct that has to be learned.
Starting out with the most obvious topics - food as source of disgust - Rachel leads the reader down some unexpected paths. Disease, pornography, cannibalism, humor. All of these can be perceived as disgusting, while some may, oddly enough, even turn out to be fun and entertaining (unless you dislike stand-up comedians making jokes about bodily functions, that is). Especially the chapter on moral disgust intrigued me. Influenced by culture, it evokes the same emotion as physical disgust, yet it is clearly different.
If you're interested in the topic, this book is definitely a must-read!
In short: A truly absorbing and well researched book on the mysteries of repulsion!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. I am more into books about happiness :))

  2. This sounds fascinating - I like quirky type of non fiction like this!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out