NOTE: The publication date of this book is 1996 however the edition dates get revised year over year. Pain has many valuable functions. It can be a warning or force us to rest our bodies. Yet most ongoing chronic pain, such as unrelenting backache or headache, has no discernable cause and diminishes countless lives. Over the years a scientific revolution has taken place in chronic pain research and therapy. A major catalyst for this was the introduction of the "gate theory" by Professor Ronald Melzack and Professor Patrick D. Wall, which argued that pain is a unified stream of experience generated by the brain, incorporating a whole host of psychological functions. Their now-classic book, with a new introduction taking in all the latest medical developments, examines every facet of pain: the psychological and clinical aspects, the physiological evidence, the major theories of pain, and the developments in its control. The challenge in the 21st century is to look at how memories, personal and social expectations, genetics, gender, aging, and stress patterns all play a role in pain, and how understanding this could lead to the relief of the suffering endured by millions.
‘The psychological evidence strongly supports the view of pain as a perceptual experience whose quality and intensity are influenced by the unique past history of the individual, by the meaning he gives to the pain-producing sensation and by his state of mind at the moment.’
A classic medical text from the late 90s on the physiology and psychology of physical pain. Melzack and Wall cover various angles on how pain works, how it varies, how we treat it, and how people have historically treated it. Surprisingly readable, though probably dated in places, it’s an illuminating explanation of a topic we tend to take for granted.
Maybe not the most up-to-date information, but a relatively accessible overview of the major theories, definitions, and treatments of pain (and more specifically chronic pain). It is written through a compassionate lens, is honest in admitting the faults and gaps in our scientific understanding of pain, and is critical of archaic theories that lean towards victim-blaming.
A good read for anyone who is actively devising their own treatment plan to cope with chronic pain.