Living Through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness

Living Through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness

by Kristin M. Swenson
     
 


Pain disintegrates a person, fracturing self and relationships. In Living through Pain Kristin M. Swenson charts the multifaceted personal and social problems caused by chronic pain and surveys professional efforts to mitigate and manage it. Because the experience of pain involves all aspects of a person--body, mind, spirit, and community--Swenson consults an… See more details below

Overview


Pain disintegrates a person, fracturing self and relationships. In Living through Pain Kristin M. Swenson charts the multifaceted personal and social problems caused by chronic pain and surveys professional efforts to mitigate and manage it. Because the experience of pain involves all aspects of a person--body, mind, spirit, and community--Swenson consults an ancient resource for wisdom, perspective, and insight. Her close reading of selected psalms from the Hebrew Bible demonstrates that the challenge of living through pain is timeless. Swenson shows how these ancient texts offer a vocabulary and grammar for understanding and expressing the contemporary experience of pain. The psalms tell of suffering and healing. They decry pain's propensity to fracture even as they demonstrate a person's ability to mend. Pain is a universal experience, and this book invites readers to consider more fully what is involved in the process of healing.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Swenson shows how the psalms can help people to renew meaning in their lives, without ever imposing that meaning.

- Arthur W. Frank, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, author of The Wounded Storyteller and The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live

Library Journal
Swenson (religion studies, Sch. of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.) has written a thoughtful and touching treatment of human suffering as described in Psalms 6, 22, 38, 69, 88, and 102. These ancient texts show us, she avers, that pain is a "visceral experience that is at once both difficult to tell and demands a hearing." Our lives are strengthened not by the pain itself "but for the process of our response to it." Intelligently written and distinctive, this book is highly recommended. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932792157
Publisher:
Baylor University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2005
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

William P. Brown
William P. Brown, Professor of Old Testament, Union Theological Seminary
For all our attempts, medically and culturally, to deny it, pain remains real and its effects are acute. The psalmists of ancient Israel understood pain in all its ramifications and provided resources to help others in recovering the fractured self to restore wholeness.
David B. Morris
David B. Morris, University Professor, University of Virginia, author of The Culture of Pain
Chronic pain today constitutes a vast medical dilemma that disorders bodies and fractures lives. Biblical scholar Kristin Swenson, in her lucid extended engagement with six Old Testament psalms, shows how the process of living through pain not in denial of pain or in an all-consuming search for relief can be understood as a quest to reintegrate the fractured self into a fully alive, whole person. Her insights, while not offered as therapy or as self-help advice, provide a resource that many patients, families, and caregivers as well as scholars will find valuable.
Walter Brueggemann
The interface between the psalms and the reality of human suffering is a long established conversation. In this book Swenson brings new life and freshness to that interface. She does so by exacting engagement with contemporary literature on the reality of pain and medical research. The outcome is a rich dialogue whereby pain theory illuminates the psalms and the psalms, in turn, offer a suggestive dimension to pain theory. The book is down and dirty in its engagement with real life. It will be an important study for men and women of faith who live with pain and for those in the helping professions who live with the pain of others. Swenson shows how the psalms, when read and heard, are indeed instruments for the existential, concrete processing of pain in healing ways.
—(Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary, author of The Threat of Life: Sermons on Pain, Power, and Weakness)
Dennis C. Turk
Dennis C. Turk, John and Emma Bonica Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Research, University of Washington
In Living through Pain, Kristin Swenson makes use of a selection of Old Testament psalms to provide a wise and poignant evocation of the circuitous journey of chronic pain winding from suffering, anguish, and the depths of despair through dependence, self-knowledge, acceptance, and ultimately transcendence. Along the path the reader becomes aware of conceptions of punishment and abandonment to feelings of self-control and transformation. The insights and empathic understanding offered by this process provide new perspectives for health care providers, people with chronic pain, and their significant others
Arthur W. Frank
Swenson presents the psalms as living companions to persons in pain.�Her reading of the psalms prescribes no doctrine.� Instead, she guides us in opening ourselves to this often strange language and allowing the verses to resonate within us.� Swenson shows how the psalms can help people to renew meaning in their lives, without ever imposing that meaning.
—(Arthur W. Frank, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, author of The Wounded Storyteller and The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live

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