A psychiatrist draws upon years of professional and personal experience with pain and depression management in this brief yet thorough guide to well-being.
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a young doctor in her 30s, Carmichael (HEAL, A Psychiatrist’s Inspiring Story, 2013, etc.) faced a personal battle with chronic pain and depression, which led her to organize a pain clinic. There, she discovered “that neither doctors, nurses nor their patients really understood what chronic pain was or what is needed to bring about recovery.” However, she says, “I found patients for the most part very resourceful once they understood what they had to do to get better.” Indeed, Carmichael as doctor-turned-patient unravels the true meaning of “physician, heal thyself”—a phrase borrowed from Luke’s Gospel and which inspires the title of her own medical guide. Her breezy, common-sense book is a gold mine of information about pain, depression, addiction, and their treatments. In Part I, Carmichael offers her engaging understanding of pain treatment throughout history, including Chinese acupuncture and massage, opiates, and the power of spiritual belief, citing examples of miraculous healings at Lourdes. Early chapters discuss how pain works and provide solid background for the remaining review of pain and depression management and recovery modalities, from traditional medicines to laughter, exercise, nutrition, and spiritual healing. After starting with a quote from the likes of Einstein, Voltaire, and Buddha, each chapter concludes with “points to remember.” Blue boxes break up the text and offer medication tips and “try this” suggestions as well as recommended exercises and meditation practices. Along the way, the author discusses the historical evolution of pain theories, from religious to more mechanistic and scientific foundations, and includes studies that demonstrate a strong emotional component to the perception of pain. “Even for the scientist,” she says, “pain, anger, and fear are all emotions that tell us to wake up and do something different.”
Engaging and practical advice for living well.