In The Pain Chronicles 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 modern methods of coping with pain are not as advanced as one might imagine, nor are those who suffer as helpless as they might fear. An intellectual and deeply humane exploration, The Pain Chronicles illuminates and makes sense of the experience of pain—and confronts with extraordinary grace and empathy its peculiar traits, its harrowing effects, and its various antidotes.
Melanie Thernstrom is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and the author of The Dead Girl and Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder.
Melanie Thernstrom investigates the reality and science behind common misunderstandings of chronic pain. Here she talks about her book The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering, and how her own story contributed to her work.