Why do people seek out uncomfortable, unnecessary, and often dangerous activities--skydiving, or bullfighting, or fast driving? All of us seem to need excitement some of the time, some of us more than others--yet for years this need remained largely unstudied by psychologists and psychiatrists. Michael Apter here offers the first comprehensive and accessible guide to the psychology of excitement, in which he explores the fascinating and complex relationship between excitement and anxiety, panic and euphoria. Apter explains what excitement is, and why most of us experience the need for it at various times. He explores, also, what happens when excitement-seeking goes wrong--when our belief in our own safety is sadly, sometimes tragically, shown to be mistaken. Apter discusses the mechanism by which we allow ourselves to take risks and to reach higher arousal states, and describes how we can adjust our "protective frame" so that we can recognize what is genuinely threatening or risky--thereby avoiding the often-fatal trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. He also shows how those who feel "too serious" much of the time can adjust their "too protective" frame so as to have more excitement and fun without courting disaster. Healthy people apparently seek excitement in ways that are constructive and that lead to learning, as opposed to antisocial and destructive modes of excitement-seeking such as "wilding," rape, seemingly senseless vandalism, and gratuitous destruction. Exploring numerous varied examples of such antisocial antidotes to boredom, Apter explains their psychological origins, and discusses how we can prevent them, or, at least, reduce their incidence. Illuminated throughout with interesting real-life stories and examples--from American football to bull-running at Pamplona to the recent Gulf War, The Dangerous Edge illuminates the varied and complicated components of the human need for excitement and convincingly depicts its major relevance to issues in contemporary society.