Ouch!: Why Pain Hurts, and Why it Doesn't Have To (Hardcover)
Pain seems like a fairly straightforward experience – you get hurt and it, well, hurts. But how would you describe it? By the number of broken bones or stitches? By the cause – the crowning baby, the sharp knife, the straying lover? What does a 7 on a pain scale of 1 to 10 really mean?
Pain is complicated. But most of the time, the way we treat pain is superficial – we seek out states of perfect painlessness by avoiding it at all costs, or suppressing it, usually with drugs. This has left us hurting all the more.
Through in-depth interviews, investigation into the history of pain and original research, Ouch! paints a new picture of pain as a complex and multi-layered phenomenon. Authors Margee Kerr and Linda McRobbie Rodriguez tell the stories of sufferers and survivors, courageous kids and their brave parents, athletes and artists, people who find healing and pleasure in pain, and scientists pushing the boundaries of pain research, to challenge the notion that all pain is bad and harmful. They reveal why who defines pain matters and how history, science, and culture shape how we experience pain. Ouch! dismantles prevailing assumptions about pain and that not all pain is bad, not all pain should be avoided, and, in the right context, pain can even feel good.
To build a healthier relationship with pain, we must understand how it works, how it is expressed and how we communicate and think about it. Once we understand how pain is made, we can remake it.
Margee Kerr is a sociologist who received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, and has been teaching and conducting research since 2004.
Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, and the New York Post. Her first book, Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, was published in 2015.
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie is a freelance writer and journalist whose career is driven by curiosity, a love of science, and a respect for history. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, The Boston Globe, Slate, Atlas Obscura, and others.
Her first book, Princesses Behaving Badly, was published in 2013. She lives in Surrey.