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This riveting book takes the reader around the globe and through the centuries to discover how different cultures have sought to combat and treat physical pain. With colourful stories and sometimes frightening anecdotes, Dr. Thomas Dormandy describes a chequered progression of breakthroughs, haphazard experiments, ignorant attitudes, and surprising developments in human efforts to control pain. Attitudes toward pain and its perception have changed, as have the means of pain relief and scientific understanding. Dr. Dormandy offers a thoroughly fascinating, multicultural history that culminates with a discussion of today's successes, and failures, in the struggle against pain. The book's exploration is fused with accounts of the development of specific methods of pain relief, including the use of alcohol, plants, hypnosis, religious faith, stoic attitudes, local anaesthesia, general anaesthesia, and modern analgesics. Dr. Dormandy also looks at the most recent advances in pain clinics and palliative care for patients with terminal disease as well as the prospects for loosening pain's grip in the future.
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'...riveting...' -- The First Post, June 6 2006
'A near perfect historical record of the struggle against pain,
although the hard won victory is as yet incomplete.'
-- Mathew Zacharias, British Medical Journal, September 9 2006
'A remarkable cultural history of pain... Dormandy's splendid
study...ends on "a note not of despair but of hope".' -- PD Smith, The Guardian, August 19 2006
'An interesting and witty collection of anecdotes of the history of pain relief. ... Dr Dormandy breathes life into stories...' -- Marc Mullen, Wood & Vale, July 21 2006
'[Dormandy] is generously alive to other traditions and
outlooks...making his book more subtle than other histories of the
-- The Tablet, September 16, 2006
Thomas Dormandy, M.D., is consultant chemical pathologist and retired professor of chemical pathology, Whittington Hospital, University of London, and Brunel University, London. He is the author of the prize-winning book, The White Death: A History of Tuberculosis.
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