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The anatomy of hope: how people prevail in the face of illness

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This chapter tells the story of Dr. Groopman’s own case of super severe back pain. It has a happy ending! The “volcano god worship” lecture he gets from Dr. Rainville is a poetic, dramatic version of saying that pain sometimes gets completely disconnected from reality. Despite the artfulness of the explanation, Groopman struggles with the implications: “And what was he really saying, in cold biological terms, not flamboyant metaphors of volcano gods? That changing my beliefs could dampen flaming circuits of pain? Was I some mystic or yogi who could walk barefoot over hot coals or lie down on a bed of nails?”

This story alone is worth the price of the book.

item type
a chapter in a book
Jerome Groopman
Exiting a labyrinth of pain
Random House