Why We Hurt by Paul Biegler [8/10]

Former doctor turned journalist, Paul Biegler has vaulted from his own knee pains to a fascinating exploration of the mystifying world of pain. To my untutored mind, the question he asks is: why is one person’s chronic or severe pain another person’s ho-hum. “Why Does It Still Hurt?: How the Power of Knowledge Can Overcome Chronic Pain” travels the world interviewing people with harrowing pain journeys, and the scientists and doctors who seem to be groping towards a more accurate picture of pain than the one societies currently have. Taking a crude notion such as neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability and tendency to rewire itself, towards specific clues as to pain’s origins (besides the obvious one of a physically painful instance) and towards revolutionary treatments (that no longer fixate on surgery and pills), Biegler provides an enlightening window into pain. And this is no academic yawn: the author is an evocative, fluent stylist supremely in control of his material. Why We Hurt is modern scientific/medical journalism of the highest order.

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