My housemate was watching a show on Netflix called Medicine Men Go Wild when I happened into the room for Season 1 Episode 2: World of Pain. The episode involves the two brothers (apparently doctors) traveling around Asia interacting with people who are undergoing immense amounts of pain (by Western standards), such as broken ribs, an infected and removed fingernail, Thaipusam, and Indian flesh suspensions! Obviously, the latter two were of interest to me. The doctors are quite down to Earth dudes who really become involved in their research, going so far as to receive cheek skewers at Thaipusam and one of them takes a hook in his back from some “rationalists” in Bangalore. The rationalists evidently travel around and perform what we’d call ball dances and vertical back suspensions while not entranced or meditating, in order to show others that there is nothing mystical about these acts of pain.
I couldn’t find the suspensions anywhere online to link to but I did find a short clip of one of the brothers receiving the hook in his back.
Note that I “get” what the rationalists’ message is, but I can’t help but feel that there is something more to suspensions than just the physical, but that’s more of a face to face conversation.