Pain is a paradoxical phenomenon - aiding human survival by warning us to retreat from damaging stimuli and rest while injuries heal, and yet causing immense human suffering when it becomes intractable. This is one of many puzzling features of pain examined in this book. What common properties are shared by pains triggered by noxious stimuli such as cuts and those triggered by social rejection, or empathy with the pain of another? How can a placebo, an inert substance which someone believes is an analgesic, reduce the pain of a migraine or a sprained ankle? The central argument of Pain is that only an integrated understanding of biology and psychology can explain the roots of pain in the nervous system and the relationship with mental events in modifying the experience of pain. Interactive animations on the accompanying DVD illustrate how tissue damage initiates signals in the nervous system, which the brain perceives as pain at the site of the injury. Videotaped interviews with people suffering from chronic pain and with health professionals working in pain clinics illuminate the underlying theories of pain and its treatment in the context of personal accounts. A discussion of the 'gate theory' of pain provides a scientific rationale for the efficacy of placebos and cognitive therapies in treating the pain of a physical stimulus. This leads to an explanation for the exacerbation of pain when people make catastrophic interpretations of their situation and its alleviation by techniques such as visualisation. The book concludes with an explanation of the 'placebo effect' and a discussion of different methods of treating pain, including surgical and chemical interventions and psychological techniques, illustrated by videos and animations on the DVD. The Online Resource Centre features: For lecturers who are registered adopters of the book: - Figures from the book in electronic format, available to download For students: Access to ROUTES, a searchable internet database of online resources compiled by academic staff and subject-specialist librarians.
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