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Pain: A Very Short Introduction

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’This book is “a must read” for anyone who thinks they have accessed everything they need to on the topic of pain’

Title: Pain: A Very Short Introduction

Authors: Rob Boddice

Publisher: Oxford 

Reviewer: Andrew Southgate, Senior Lecturer and School of Nursing Lead for Internationalisation

What was it like?

This book is enlightening, easy to read and contains a wealth of information related to the complex topic of pain. Concepts of pain from ancient Greece and Roman times are explored. These remind us that for century’s pain has a negative impact upon physical and psychological wellbeing. The book discuss non-western interpretations of pain and sheds light on how people from different cultures might respond to pain. In just over 100 pages the content covers key concepts, such as acute and chronic pain, gate control theory and cultures of pain. There are fascinating gems hidden inside the book such as finding out that “Railway Spine” is argued to be a precursor to what is now known today as Post Traumatic Stress. The references to art, philosophy, medicine, society and contemporary scientific and nursing knowledge are skilfully woven throughout the chapters and illuminate the points made.

Strengths & weaknesses:

I found this a very hard book to put down. The style and pace of writing flows well. Images are used, and a few more would have helped make the book more engaging. Some readers may find some of the content challenging to engage in. For example, some of the philosophical arguments may be difficult to follow and some may baulk at the chapter related to Pain and Pleasure.

What were the highlights?

The book has clearly defined chapters. This makes it ideal for dipping “in and out of”. It is well referenced and the further reading list is divided into sections such as Social and Political Studies and Art and Literature as well as expected topics such as Contemporary Pain Medicine.

Who should read it?

This book is “a must read” for anyone who thinks they have accessed everything they need to on the topic of pain. I think you will have at least “Well I never knew that” moment by the end!

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