An Anatomy of Pain

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A book review of An Anatomy of Pain: How the Body and the Mind Experience and Endure Physical Suffering by Dr. Abdul-Ghaaliq Lalkhen

A book review of An Anatomy of Pain: How the Body and the Mind Experience and Endure Physical Suffering by Dr. Abdul-Ghaaliq Lalkhen

Stars: ***

Scribner (2022)
Health>Pain Management
256 pages

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Summary: Pain is a universal human experience, but we understand very little about the mechanisms behind it. We hurt ourselves, we feel pain, we seek help from a professional or learn to avoid certain behaviors that cause pain. But the story of what goes on in our body is far from simple. Even medical practitioners themselves often fail to grasp the complexities between our minds and bodies and how they interact when dealing with pain stimulus. Throughout history we’ve tried to prevent and mediate the effects of pain—which has only resulted in a highly medicated population and a booming opiates industry.

Written by a medical expert trained as an anesthesiologist, An Anatomy of Pain is the first book to clearly explain the current issues and complexities surrounding the treatment of pain and how society deals with those in pain, as well as how our bodies relate to pain. Common conception still equates pain with tissue damage but that is only a very small part of the story—the organ which produces pain is the brain. Case studies show that a woman who has undergone a c-section reports dramatically less pain than a patient who has had kidney stones removed in a similarly invasive operation. The soldier who drags himself or herself to safety after being shot deals with pain in a remarkably different way from someone suffering a similar injury on a street. The truth is that pain is a complex mix of nerve endings, psychological state, social preconceptions, and situational awareness.

An Anatomy of Pain

This book talks about pain from acute to chronic. This is written by a medical expert but I feel this made the reading of the book a little dry. I prefer narrative nonfiction, even when learning about a new topic.

That said though the book does cover the topics well and helps explain why the same type of injury to the body can feel differently by different people or in different circumstances.

I think people often forget that it’s the brain that pain comes from, not the injured body part. It is because of this that it’s different for different people. The book talks a lot about opioids of course. The book uses case studies to illustrate different parts of the book.

Some topics include how pain works, a brief history of pain, pain medications, opioids and addiction, pain with no injury, pain management, private pain practice and more.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.