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.
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.