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New York Times Bestseller


Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering

By Melanie Thernstrom

Narrated by Laural Merlington

10 Audio CDs List Price: $34.99    Your price: $6.991
EAN: 9781400118540
Mp3-CD List Price: $24.99    Your price: $12.502
EAN: 9781400168545
Audio Download Available at
Publication Date: 08/24/2010 Running Time: 11 hrs 30 min
  • 1Price reflects a sale price of $6.99.
  • 2Price reflects a sale price of 50% off.


Both a personal meditation and an intellectual exploration, The Pain Chronicles illuminates and makes sense of the all-too-human experience of pain—and confronts with extraordinary grace and empathy its peculiar traits, its harrowing effects, and its various antidotes.


Review Excerpts

"Using clever affectations, narrator Laurel Merlington portrays what she perceives as a patient on Freud's couch: neurotic, intelligent, depressed, and addicted." ---AudioFile

"The nature of chronic pain becomes compelling and engaging listening---and it doesn't hurt a bit." ---BookPage Audio Review

"A stellar example of literary nonfiction." ---The New York Times

"A sophisticated, elegantly compiled treatise---as wide-ranging, complex and defiant as pain itself." ---The New York Times

"A rich mélange of ideas and journalism." ---Kirkus

"Rarely has a single book so intelligently illuminated a universal human experience." ---Jerome Groopman, author of the New York Times bestseller How Doctors Think

"The personal chronicles lift this accomplished medical history to an astonishing record of courage and endurance.... In these stories, there is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and hope for the rest of us." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Thernstrom never flinches in the face of a subject that is easily overlooked or judged by those for whom it is, ironically, too painful. This is stellar work." ---Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

"Melanie Thernstrom conveys, indelibly, that pain is not pressed upon us; it's in us, it's intrinsic to our being. I find that insight, and this book, invaluable." ---David Shields, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead


Each of us will know physical pain in our lives, but none of us knows when it will come or how long it will stay. Today as much as 10 percent of the population of the United States suffers from chronic pain. It is more widespread, misdiagnosed, and undertreated than any major disease. While recent research has shown that pain produces pathological changes to the brain and spinal cord, many doctors and patients still labor under misguided cultural notions and outdated scientific dogmas that prevent proper treatment, to devastating effect.

In The Pain Chronicles, a singular and deeply humane work, Melanie Thernstrom traces conceptions of pain throughout the ages—from ancient Babylonian pain-banishing spells to modern brain imaging—to reveal the elusive, mysterious nature of pain itself. Interweaving first-person reflections on her own battle with chronic pain, incisive reportage from leading-edge pain clinics and medical research, and insights from a wide range of disciplines—science, history, religion, philosophy, anthropology, literature, and art—Thernstrom shows that when dealing with pain we are neither as advanced as we imagine nor as helpless as we may fear.

MEDICALPain Medicine
HEALTH & FITNESSPain Management

The Pain Chronicles

Publishers Weekly Starred Review
MP3 Audio Sample
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