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Publisher's Summary

Each of us will know physical pain in our lives, but none of us knows when it will come or how long it will stay. Today as much as 10 percent of the population of the United States suffers from chronic pain. It is more widespread, misdiagnosed, and undertreated than any major disease. While recent research has shown that pain produces pathological changes to the brain and spinal cord, many doctors and patients still labor under misguided cultural notions and outdated scientific dogmas that prevent proper treatment, to devastating effect.
In The Pain Chronicles, a singular and deeply humane work, Melanie Thernstrom traces conceptions of pain throughout the ages - from ancient Babylonian pain-banishing spells to modern brain imaging - to reveal the elusive, mysterious nature of pain itself. Interweaving first-person reflections on her own battle with chronic pain, incisive reportage from leading-edge pain clinics and medical research, and insights from a wide range of disciplines - science, history, religion, philosophy, anthropology, literature, and art - Thernstrom shows that when dealing with pain we are neither as advanced as we imagine nor as helpless as we may fear.
©2010 Melanie Thernstrom (P)2010 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Thernstrom never flinches in the face of a subject that is easily overlooked or judged by those for whom it is, ironically, too painful. This is stellar work." (Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Nathan O'Hara on 08-21-10

Informative, well researched and nicely written

The Pain Chronicles is one of the best books of any genre that I have read in quite a few years. It captivated me as well as any novel, and informed me about chronic pain in a way that made the issue at once human and scientific. I highly recommend this one, and I am pretty hard to please.

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30 of 30 people found this review helpful


By Mark on 09-07-10

Great for loved ones of chronic pain sufferers

I read the book because my wife has been in pain for several years. While reading this book cannot put me in her shoes, it did give me a better understanding of what being in constant pain does to a person. Moreover, it gave me a much better understanding of the separation between pain perception and injury. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves someone who has chronic pain.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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