National Geographic presents: Rituals and customs accepted in one culture may be thought of as downright bizarre in another. "Taboo" delves into that dichotomy, taking viewers across cultural borders to explore traditional beliefs and deliberate lifestyle choices, ranging from body modification and gender decisions to nudity and spiritual quests that test the limits of the human body.
The ability to heal others is prized in all cultures. But a healer's source of power can be mysterious and treatment often requires a big leap of faith. Meet three healers who claim their strength derives from unconventional sources.
In most of the world, marriage is confined to one man and one woman, the basic formula for propagating the species. But in some cultures, marriage has broader meanings. See how other communities identify and celebrate the essence of family.
Initiation gives us a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves -- but everyone has limits.
From transsexuals in America to the katoey in Thailand, find out how far people will go to become the person of their dreams.
Signs of Identity
Marks of identity are not always about the art. In Japan, tattoos mark criminal gangs. In Canada, "branding" tests courage.
Cockroaches, worms and the still-beating heart of a snake are traditions, even delicacies, in some societies. Enjoy, if you dare!
Want to clean up violent crime scenes or examine rotting corpses on a body farm? NGC explores creepy careers.
The desire to find a mate is one of humanity's fundamental instincts, but what happens to men and women when their love is taboo?
In some religions, devotion is measured by physical suffering and self-inflicted pain.
Touching the dead, to many, is taboo. But what if it was your job? Meet the people who handle our remains.
Around the world, the rules of childhood are open to interpretation. This is childhood at its most shocking and most taboo.
A therapist teaches drinking urine, a Papua New Guinea woman breast feeds a pig, and organ trade thrives in the Philippines.
From eating light bulbs to exorcising demons, some will go to extreme measures to heal - and be healed.
Trial by Fire
In many traditional cultures, the divide between boyhood and manhood can be bridged in a single, dramatic ritual that proves one's bravery and strength.
The Third Sex
Taboo examines cultural perceptions of gender. In India, transvestites marry their god. In one Indonesian village, 5 sexes are recognized. And in Albania, sworn virgins act as men.
When laws are broken, human society demands justice. But who decides which punishment fits the crime?
See the taboo lengths people will go to change their looks. Could you tattoo the whites of your eyes?
Young men leap from a 70-foot tower in a ritual that could kill them; a girl tattoos her face before marriage, and a man participates in a bloodletting ceremony.
Experience animal sacrifices to a bloodthirsty goddess in Nepal, a mass whale slaughter near Denmark, and a religious cockfight in Bali.
Prostitution is as old as history itself, and today it takes many forms, from dangerous street walking to five-star luxury.
In the industrialized world, where the body beautiful is a thin one, we ask why so many are now overweight... and why is fatness seen as taboo?
Misfits are people who live outside of their cultural norms. Some are born into that situation, while others seek it.
Throughout human history, narcotics have been used as medicine and for pleasure, but those who use them can be stigmatized. When drug use is legal or accepted, is it still taboo?
Human relationships can bring safety, security and love - but sometimes they can also be taboo.
Some women are willing to mutilate and disfigure their bodies to break the ultimate beauty taboos.
A rarely glimpsed journey into the mysterious world where real life collides with fantasy and enters into the realm of the taboo.
Addiction doesn't always involve substances. It can also involve behavior. From sex to adrenaline, gaming to shopping, any behavior can become addictive - and taboo.
In a society driven by consumption, there are people who have taken it to an extreme. They don't own stuff their stuff owns them. So when does hoarding cross the line and become taboo?
Love behind bars with some of the most dangerous criminals on earth. In Texas, an inmate in solitary confinement gets married with the help of a radio host as surrogate groom, while the prisoner listens over the radio.
Love can come in many different and bizarre forms. In Washington State, we meet a man with objectum sexual,who has an emotional, romantic and often sexual attraction to his car, named Vanilla.
Living with the Dead
Most people react to dead bodies with disgust and fear but some see it as an opportunity to cash in.
Enter the lives of those whose extreme medical ailments cause them to be unfairly judged by society.
Around the globe, girls are having sex at different ages and for different reasons.
People express themselves through their collections, but some collectors cross into obsession.
Who decides who is beautiful and who is not? Apparently, we all do. Standards of beauty differ across cultures, but it seems human beings may possess an innate preference for symmetrical faces. But imagine living without a face.
There are some jobs that so filthy and nasty that they are taboo, but then somebody has to do it.
Marriage is as old as civilization, but some weddings turn their back on tradition to become taboo.
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