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Publisher's Summary

A doctor’s personal and unsparing account of how modern medicine’s failure to understand pain has made care less effective

In The Song of Our Scars, physician Haider Warraich offers a bold reexamination of the nature of pain, not as a simple physical sensation, but as a cultural experience.

Warraich, himself a sufferer of chronic pain, considers the ways our notions of pain have been shaped not just by science but by politics and power, by whose suffering mattered and whose didn’t. He weaves a provocative history from the Renaissance, when pain transformed into a medical issue, through the racial legacy of pain tolerance, to the opiate epidemics of both the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, to the cutting edge of present-day pain science. The conclusion is clear: only by reckoning with both pain’s complicated history and its biology can today’s doctors adequately treat their patients’ suffering.

Trenchant and deeply felt, The Song of Our Scars is an indictment of a broken system and a plea for a more holistic understanding of the human body. 

©2022 Haider Warraich (P)2022 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

“In a wide-ranging overview, the author draws on scientific and medical studies, his work at the Pain Management Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and his clinical practice to examine the history, physiology, biology, and treatment of pain… A clear and timely examination of the complexities of pain.”—Kirkus
"In this insightful and humane book about pain, suffering and survival, Warraich once again braids history and personal history to confront questions both ancient and contemporary. It is a marvelous read.”—Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies
"As physician-author Haider Warrich aptly points out, ‘Almost everything we know about pain and how we treat it is wrong.’ His masterful new book is a unique, panoramic and deep view of pain, taking us through his personal experience, its history and evolution, the science, and the massive corporate corruption that undermined the opioid epidemic. An incredible book."—Dr. Eric Topol, author of Deep Medicine

What listeners say about The Song of Our Scars

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It's unfortunate the author did not explore

The author clearly did historical research on pain and opioids and is a good write with good story telling. However, it is so unfortunate that he spent his time writing a book about the history and the current state -- without investigating effective ways to alleviate his pain. The takeaway message of "live with your pain" is heartbreaking and will lead to suicides. With the scientific research around neuroplasticity, when you tell people the pain is in the brain -- work to rewire their brain. You know who figured this out? A physicist and martial artist who had chronic knee pain. He favored that knee for years, but when he slipped and fell and hurt is other knee, he had no problem standing on the original painful knee. When was this? During World War II. He knew it was in the brain -- and he began creating movement puzzles to rewire his brain. There is a hope for people with pain. And, hope for people to do movements to avoid chronic pain such as back pain (and so many others). It is called The Feldenkrais Method. And, there are hundreds of free lessons online that people can explore at zero cost to alleviate their pain. And, there are practitioners who can guide you to move out of pain. No painful exercises. Easy. Gentle Movements.

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Not good for me...

Some good information, but a lot of twisting of facts. There is a lot of just plain wrong information in this book, as well. The author gets the whole opiod epidemic wrong by leaving out the fact that they lump heroin use and over doses with doctor prescribed opiods. This is a huge issue for me, maybe isn't for you. I'm a pain patient and almost all of this authors assertions are wrong for me. That is probably why I couldn't get through this book. If you get this book just do a little digging as you listen.

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Learn about why you hurt

Technically intense but entirely understandable, this book contains a vast amount of information based on fact & research. Every medical student, practitioner of health and treaters in the medical field should be required to read this before being allowed to hold a license or degree in medicine.
While I am not in that category, I am on the receiving end of the medical treatment dispensed by these “experts”. I have been in chronic pain for decades due to a deteriorating spine and, like the author, have had to describe my pain in order to be dispensed a variety of pain relief modalities including drugs (which I cannot take) and physical therapy (which has been helpful).
After listening to this book, I now use different terms to describe what I am experiencing.
Excellent book, although written for the technician and not a lay person, I would still recommend it.
A little too much time spent repeating the sordid account of the Sackler family’s criminal influence with opioids & their adverse influence on our society. It was still valuable background information.
Overall, highly recommended reading.

1 person found this helpful