Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Pain: The Science of Suffering"

After reading the book "Pain: The Science of Suffering" by Patrick Wall, I was left with a completely different understanding of pain. When we feel some type of pain throughout our life, the only thing we can think of is how to make it go away. It's amazing to see the physiological aspect of what is actually occurring. It's interesting how the author begins by laying out real-life events and how one reacts.

In the initial time period of an emergency the main focus is survival, escape and rescue, but once this time has elapsed pain sets in. He also points out that pain isn't dependent upon a certain injury. We all feel pain differently in different circumstances. Wall takes what is the general belief, and chapter by chapter, he unravels the old beliefs, with a new way of thinking. Originally it was believed that the body and mind were two separate entities. Wall shows that as pain is encountered, many things happen both in the body and the brain. There's alertness, orientation, attention and exploration. The author then divulges into the idea that each persons experience with pain is different and the amount of pain is effected by both our individual attitudes along with the cultural expectations. Wall believes that the actual feeling of pain is simply the brains reaction to a particular situation in order to find an appropriate action. It is clear that Wall provokes us to question the original beliefs of pain and how to cope successfully with pain.

The most interesting topic throughout the book was definitely the idea of the "Phantom Limb." It's amazing how the body can re-grow nerves, and how this re-growth can cause pain in the limb. It's weird to think that a person can comprehend the message of the brain that is saying you have no arm, yet your body has a sensation in where your arm used to be. This is unfathomable.

Overall, I found most of the book very interesting, but there were some areas that lost my interest. During the chapters in which medical talk was prevalent, it was hard for me to see the bigger picture. I have never been the science fanatic, so those areas lacked my attention. But it was definitely interesting hearing the perspective of a doctor, and how pain is often overlooked or if there is no cure it is considered within the mind of a person. I feel this topic needs more attention and research.


Jaak said...

First of all, I love the picture you posted with this. Fantastic!
Any way, I agree with you when you say that you lost interest in some of the areas with lots of medical jargon. Has the book, over all, had any effect on how you personally view pain? Or made you reconsider a time in which either you or someone you knew was in pain? I definitely had moments where I would be like "Oh man, that's why that hurt?" or "I can't believe I didn't believe them".

SLD said...

Thanks! I think it's fun to add pictures, and it makes my page look better haha. And the book has definitely had an effect on how I view pain. I guess when it's happening to you, you lose sight of the bigger picture. But on top of that, it just reiterates the fact that the body is really amazing in all that it does. That our bodies use inflamation and pain in order to guard an injured area. Something that is so ordinary, is actually quite fascinating :).