Book Review: 'The Story of Pain: from Prayer to Painkillers'

Book Review: 'The Story of Pain: from Prayer to Painkillers'

17 January 2015

The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers

The Story of Pain by Joanna Bourke.jpg

By Joanna Bourke Oxford University Press Hardback, 416 pages Published June 2014 ISBN: 0199689423  

Review by Bronwyn Thompson

“If you're at all interested in pain and why people vary in the ways they deal with pain, this book is a must-read. It's written by historian Joanna Bourke, and traces the language used by people-in-pain and about people-in-pain. Pain is the ever-mysterious yet ubiquitous experience that has been variously thought to be a punishment, an experience to bring us closer to God, an out-of-balance body system and most recently, a neurobiological phenomenon. Bourke takes us back to some of the early writings in medical journals like the British Medical Journal, The Lancet and Journal of the American Medical Association to show us how our understanding and therefore our management of pain has shifted and changed as we define what is, and isn't, acceptable pain AND acceptable behaviour associated with pain. Pain, and our behaviours as people-in-pain have been used to justify superiority of ethnic origin, gender, spirituality, education and socio-economic background. If you've ever thought that pain is simply about tissue damage, this book will very clearly articulate a counter-argument that should, if you're open to it, help you both as a person-in-pain and as an onlooker or clinician. I thoroughly recommend it as an absorbing read.”  

Read more reviews: Amazon Good Reads The Guardian The Independent  

Get it from: Oxford University Press Fishpond Amazon