The Language of Pain: Finding Words, Compassion, and Relief
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The Language of Pain: Finding Words, Compassion, and Relief

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by David Biro
     
 

David Biro breaks through the wall of silence in this impassioned, hopeful work.
Pain regularly accompanies illness, as David Biro knows only too well. Faced with a bone marrow transplant, the young doctor was determined to study his pain but found himself unable to articulate its depths, even to his doctors and wife. He has now discovered a way to break through

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Overview

David Biro breaks through the wall of silence in this impassioned, hopeful work.
Pain regularly accompanies illness, as David Biro knows only too well. Faced with a bone marrow transplant, the young doctor was determined to study his pain but found himself unable to articulate its depths, even to his doctors and wife. He has now discovered a way to break through the silent wall of suffering—physical and psychological—and wants to share it with others. In his new book, the critically acclaimed author expertly weaves together compelling stories and artwork from patients along with insights from some of our greatest thinkers, writers, and artists.
In the tradition of Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, Biro’s groundbreaking book is sure to transform our understanding of and ability to communicate pain. Language can alleviate the loneliness of pain and improve the chances that other people—family, friends, and doctors—empathize and respond most effectively.

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Editorial Reviews

Perri Klass - The Washington Post
“[E]rudite and ambitious....Biro brings an extraordinary range of voices into this silence and moves through a huge variety of experience and narrative, without straying too far from the bedside.”
Andrew Solomon
“A literate and deeply felt work of medical philosophy that ponders the subtle mystery of how words give meaning to—and even relief from—corporeal and psychic anguish.”
Publishers Weekly
Here's a pain medication you can't get at the pharmacy. Biro, an M.D. with a Ph.D. in literature from Oxford, asserts that language itself can alleviate pain—particularly its daunting power to isolate and silence. “Illness and especially pain give rise to a wall that separates a person from the world,” because pain literally leaves us speechless, Biro finds. What sufferers must do, he asserts, is find the words and images to describe what nobody else feels in exactly the same way. “We need to think like Joyce and Tolstoy,” Biro declares, and search for metaphors that are universal. His thoughtful, lyrical challenge is, in essence, a study guide to some of the last century's most powerful writers, their metaphors of pain and suffering parsed and pondered. Biro even turns to evocative artist Frida Kahlo to illustrate the look of pain (portraying herself as a wounded deer, for example). And here's why we should pay attention to Biro's difficult, complicated lesson: “as long as the conversation lasts, we are not alone.” (Jan.)
Library Journal
Biro, a practicing physician, explores a concept that many patients have a difficult time communicating—pain. Biro is able to bridge the gap between patient and doctor because he has experience from both sides, having received a bone marrow transplant as a young doctor. He also presents a history of pain and how it has been expressed through everything from art to rating charts to novels, compiling the stories and artwork of ordinary patients in addition to considerations of pain from writers, philosophers, and artists. Though Biro's previous work, One Hundred Days: My Unexpected Journey from Doctor to Patient, is a stand-alone, it would be a useful companion reading to explore where his journey began. VERDICT This well-researched book will be helpful to medical professionals and psychologists as well as those who suffer from chronic or extreme pain, offering encouragement and inspiration for explaining their experiences to their doctors.—Helena Travka, Cleveland P.L.\

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393070637
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
01/18/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

One of New York magazine’s Top Doctors, David Biro, MD, practices in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. He lives with his wife and twin boys in New York City.

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