The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering



Melanie Thernstrom, "The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering"
Farrar, Straus and Giroux | 2010 | ISBN: 0865476810 | 384 pages | PDF, epub, mobi | 5,8 mb

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Imagine a "terror that surpasses all description," novelist Fanny Burney wrote in 1812 after removal of a breast abscess without anesthesia. Then imagine such pain stalking you for years, as it does Thernstrom (Raj: The Making of British India) and 70 million other Americans. This is what Thernstrom describes in an exquisite, meticulous history of medicineƖs quest to alleviate painfrom the first use of ether for surgery in 1842 to the modern management of chronic pain: drugs like Neurontin and controversial opioids (though they can make patients even more sensitive to pain); MRIs; and neuroimaging, which trains patients to literally change their own brains. But the personal chronicles lift this accomplished medical history to an astonishing record of courage and endurance. Danielle Parker goes to 85 doctors before finding back pain relief from a chiropractor who urges her to move around instead of reaching for a pill. Thernstrom herself ultimately finds a regime of physical therapy, Botox, Celebrex, Tramadol, and then changes her wish for a pain-free life to one filled with love and family. In these stories, there is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and hope for the rest of us.

From Bookmarks Magazine
The Pain Chronicles is a tale of two books: one a broad-brush study of pain throughout the ages in literature, religion, history, art, and philosophy; the other, remarkable insight into the ravages of pain on the individual and the earnest (if hit-and-miss) efforts of modern science to handle chronic pain. An accomplished science writer, Thernstrom neatly balances her own story within the larger context, dividing the book into sections on pain as metaphor, history, disease, narrative, and perception. Some critics found Thernstrom's close-up work less effective than the history. "While her physical descriptions are often precise," Robin Romm writes, "she frequently blurs the boundary between romantic and physical pain, to sometimes melodramatic effect." Others commented that Thernstrom gives short shrift to Eastern medicine. Still, critics agree that the book is engaging and passionate.

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