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Short Synopsis
Both a personal meditation and an intellectual exploration, The Pain Chronicles illuminates and makes sense of the all-too-human experience of pain—and confronts with extraordinary grace and empathy its peculiar traits, its harrowing effects, and its various antidotes.

Full Synopsis
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changes to the brain and spinal cord, many doctors and patients still labor under misguided cultural notions and outdated scientific dogmas that prevent proper treatment, to devastating effect.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.

"Using clever affectations, narrator Laurel Merlington portrays what she perceives as a patient on Freud's couch: neurotic, intelligent, depressed, and addicted." ---AudioFile

"A stellar example of literary nonfiction." ---The New York Times

"The nature of chronic pain becomes compelling and engaging listening---and it doesn't hurt a bit." ---BookPage Audio Review

"A sophisticated, elegantly compiled treatise---as wide-ranging, complex and defiant as pain itself." ---The New York Times

"A rich mélange of ideas and journalism." ---Kirkus

"Rarely has a single book so intelligently illuminated a universal human experience." ---Jerome Groopman, author of the New York Times bestseller How Doctors Think

"The personal chronicles lift this accomplished medical history to an astonishing record of courage and endurance.... In these stories, there is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and hope for the rest of us." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"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

"Melanie Thernstrom conveys, indelibly, that pain is not pressed upon us; it's in us, it's intrinsic to our being. I find that insight, and this book, invaluable." ---David Shields, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead
New York Times Bestseller

Publishers Weekly Review

The Pain Chronicles

Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering

Author Melanie Thernstrom

Narrated by Laural Merlington

Publication date Aug 24, 2010

Running time 12 hrs

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