Review – Ouch!: The New Science of Pain

Posted August 7, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Ouch by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie and Margee KerrOuch!: The New Science of Pain, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, Margee Kerr

I’d somewhat feared when I picked this book up that it would be unsympathetic to those with chronic pain, in the way that some doctors are at the moment, because the overprescription of opiates is so much on their minds that everyone reporting pain sounds like a drug seeker to them. There is a bit of commentary on the fact that modern people are more likely to report pain and to be afraid of pain, etc, etc, but overall I found that the two authors were fairly sympathetic and willing to seek out multiple views.

One of the authors has experience with chronic pain and a degenerative illness, and both of them make sure to position themselves so the reader understands where they’re coming from — perhaps too autobiographical for some when it comes to popular science, but I think it was valuable in this case. Either way, both seem to have done a lot of research, including hands-on. Their attitude does lean toward “pain is a good thing and painkillers are generally the wrong treatment”, but doesn’t exclude the usefulness of painkillers for some people. It’s mostly sensitive and sympathetic, as I said, including toward the BDSM community, whose attitudes toward pain they also discuss.

It’s a layperson-friendly guide to what we understand about pain, not just biologically (although it does discuss that) but also psychologically and socially… and it discusses not just physical pain, but to some degree emotional pain as well (particularly as you can’t really have one without the other: human experience isn’t neatly divided like that). It was what I’d hoped for from another book which was much more about responses to pain, so that was nice. Overall, it’s super readable, and I flew through it.

Rating: 4/5

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