PAIN by Paul Brand


The Gift Nobody Wants
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 The engaging memoirs of a physician whose professional life has revolved around pain--and who packs his personal story with solid information on how and why we experience pain and how we can manage it. Brand was born in 1914 in India, the son of English missionaries who practiced medicine in the hill country near Madras. Educated in England, he took a one-year course in medicine designed for overseas missionaries, and was caught up by the wonder of it. In 1946, Brand returned to India as a missionary surgeon and soon was performing reconstructive surgery at a leprosy sanitorium. Later, in 1965, he moved to the US to set up a rehabilitation program at a leprosy hospital in Louisiana. His work with lepers gave him a unique perspective on, and appreciation for, pain--he calls it the ``beloved enemy''-- and direct experience of the hazards of painlessness. Nerve damage in leprosy (and in various other disorders, such as diabetes) causes loss of the sensation of pain, putting its victims at risk of unknowingly incurring disfiguring and even deadly injuries. Brand (assisted here by Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts?, etc.--not reviewed) selectively includes tales of his childhood in rural India, his student days in London during the Blitz, his work with lepers and other patients, and even his own personal encounters with pain, showing how these experience have shaped his outlook. His observation of different cultures' views of pain have convinced him that one's attitude toward pain largely determines how it's experienced--and that fear, anger, guilt, helplessness, and loneliness all intensify it. Brand's stated goal is to restore balance to how we think about pain, and he succeeds admirably. Valuable for its insight into pain; unforgettable for its glimpses into the lives of lepers.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-017020-4
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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