Pamela's Reviews > The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering

The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Thernstrom
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's review
Feb 22, 2011

it was amazing
Read in February, 2011

This book convinced me of the physiological basis of chronic pain syndrome, which I'm embarrassed to say I didn't quite accept before. Thernstrom is lucid and persuasive about the way a one-time injury or even simply a biological predisposition can trigger a permanent overdrive in the pain-registering areas of the brain. The Pain Chronicles is a book in the tradition of Andrew Solomon's celebrated The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, in that it is empathically alive, beautifully written, highly balanced even when tackling the author's own history of suffering, and also in that it widens its inquiry to embrace pressing existential questions. How can we ever know what someone else's pain is like? How does pain degrade one's sense of self? What is "mind" and what is "body"? How can the unbearable be borne?

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