A Painful Explanation

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By | From the Collections

Library Support Services Assistant Samantha Blake offers her personal and professional thoughts on a new addition to the Wellcome Library’s shelves.

A recent lecture on chronic pain given by Lorimer Moseley, an Australian physiotherapist, clinical scientist and researcher, has highlighted an interesting and relevant topic relating to two of the Wellcome Trust’s Challenge Areas: Understanding the Brain and Chronic Disease. Being a physiotherapist myself, I am well acquainted with a book he wrote with David Butler called Explain Pain. This work is often recommended to patients, explaining pain in a comprehensible, unique and fun way. A copy of the book has recently been acquired by the Wellcome Library. After much demand from patients and health professionals, Moseley followed up with Painful Yarns, which incorporates interesting and entertaining stories to aid a person’s understanding of pain (this book is also in the process of being added to our collections).

The informal writing style of Painful Yarns may not be to everyone’s taste, containing many Australian colloquialisms, but I find it adds to the entertainment value of the narrative and makes the contents more memorable. Moseley is an engaging and amusing speaker and on the whole his ability to entertain translates well into his writing. Pain is such a complex topic that, firstly, it can be difficult to understand it as a clinician and secondly, explain it effectively to patients or other non-health professionals. These books have proven to be very useful as a tool, and have also had positive feedback from patients. Whilst Explain Pain is a recent work on pain management and pain’s physiopathology, the Wellcome Library’s collections can help in the processes of both historicizing and also unpicking the catch-all term “pain”. For example, simple subject searches across our catalogues illustrate the variety of some of our holdings dealing with this topic.

The social and subjective understandings and meanings of pain are also the focus of a Wellcome Trust-funded research group at Birkbeck, University of London. Whilst the Birkbeck Pain Project seeks to “analyse narratives of pain from diverse communities, including those whose voices were seldom heard”, Butler and Moseley’s Explain Pain is an example of how health professionals can communicate their thoughts on this area in an amusing and unique way.

Author: Samantha Blake

Samantha Blake

Samantha Blake is Visitor Services Assistant at the Wellcome Library.

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