The Pain Chronicles

April 11, 2011

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP candidate, PREP-AIRED moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

One in 10 people in the United States identifies themselves as having chronic pain.  Over $90 billion is spent annually in the United States on the associated costs of chronic pain, including disability, medical costs, and loss in productivity.  The global impact of chronic pain is immense. Yet treatment of chronic pain remains as elusive to our modern medical treatment methods as it did to the ancient Greeks.  In The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing and the Science of Suffering, author Melanie Thernstrom masterfully weaves her personal pain narrative into a rich tapestry of the science, history, culture and ethical underpinnings of the study of pain.  The PREP program’s director, Dr. Daniel Carr, lends a pivotal voice in Ms. Ternstrom’s understanding of the challenges of pain medicine, along with other pain medicine luminaries such as Dr. Scott Fishman and Dr. Clifford Woolf.  What makes The Pain Chronicles so compelling  are the multiple layers of inquiry that unfold throughout the book, often challenging the reader to ask more questions than find answers on the nature of pain and suffering.  Ms. Thernstrom’s use of the patient voice from the perspectives of authors such as Elaine Scarry (The Body in Pain) and Arthur Frank (At the Will of the Body) help to  illustrate the complex interaction between pain perception and suffering.   The Pain Chronicles allows a deeper understanding of  the disease of pain, and should be “required reading” for both patients and health practitioners for whom chronic pain plays a role in their lives.

The Tufts Pain Education and Policy Program, with assistance from the Tufts University Public Health and Professional Degree Student Activity Fund, is pleased to be hosting author Melanie Thernstrom on Tuesday, April 12 at 4:00 PM in the Wolff Auditorium at Tufts Medical Center.  The event is free and open to the public.  Signed copies of The Pain Chronicles will be available.  Please join us!

Here is a link to Melanie Thernstrom’s lecture on April 12: http://www.tufts.edu/med/education/phpd/msprep/prepforum.html

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1.    Unhinged  |  June 15th, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    I watched Ms. Thernstrom’s Lecture at Tufts (via video), and loved it. One of the reasons she is so appealing, is because she puts a face, and lends a voice to the often misunderstood, “Chronic Pain Patient”. I finished her book in five days, after reading about it in the Boston Globe. I loved that she talked about the shame and silence that often accompanies chronic pain in women. She is a fellow warrior in the fight to accept our burden of unrelenting pain.

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