Listening to Pain


Pain regularly accompanies illness, as David Biro knows only too well. Faced with a bone marrow transplant, the young doctor was determined to study his pain but found himself unable to articulate its depths, even to his doctors and wife. He has now discovered a way to break through the silent wall of suffering—physical and psychological—and wants to share it with others. In his new book, the critically acclaimed author expertly weaves together compelling stories and artwork from patients along with insights from some of our greatest thinkers, writers, and artists.

In the tradition of Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, Biro’s groundbreaking book is sure to transform our understanding of and ability to communicate pain. Language can alleviate the loneliness of pain and improve the chances that other people—family, friends, and doctors—empathize and respond most effectively.

Endorsements and Reviews:

"True genius... Each thoughtfully selected example helps to find the language that Biro seeks... Through many individual components, Biro creates a larger portrait of pain, deftly addressing the physical as well as the psychological aspects of the human experience of pain... He moves beyond simply recounting events and instead transforms how the reader thinks about pain." — Preeti N. Malani, Journal of the American Medical Association

"Here's a pain medication you can't get at the pharmacy... Thoughtful, lyrical... We should pay attention to Biro's difficult, complicated lesson." — Publishers Weekly

"Enlightening... rich in its philosophic and literary meditations on pain and metaphor... Biro is to be commended for the acuity and sensitivity of his reflections on the patient's experience in this thoughtful and richly referenced book." — Raymond C. Tait, PsycCritiques, the American Psychological Association

David Biro

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The Language of Pain


Endorsements and Reviews:

"Biro brings an extraordinary range of voices into this silence and moves through a huge variety of experience and narrative, without straying too far from the bedside...[His book] resonates not only with the common certainties of pain and death but also with the infinite individuality of human life and human voice." — Perri Klass, The Washington Post

“This well-researched book will be helpful to medical professionals and psychologists as well as those who suffer from chronic or extreme pain, offering encouragement and inspiration for explaining their experiences to their doctors.” — Library Journal

“A literate and deeply felt work of medical philosophy that ponders the subtle mystery of how words give meaning to—and even relief from—corporeal and psychic anguish.” — Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

"Although several books provide first-person accounts of illness and pain, Biro's use in The Language of Pain of many different experiences (fictional and real) to construct a broader commentary is an important and unique contribution. He moves beyond simply recounting events and instead actually transforms how the reader thinks about pain. In a rather remarkable way, he even demands better accountability from clinicians in terms of how pain is managed." — Preeti N. Malani, The Journal of the American Medical Association

"David Biro makes effective use of his ability to write as a physician, as a literary scholar, and as someone who has faced a life-threatening illness. The Language of Pain breaks new ground both as a study of metaphor and as a demonstration of the clinical relevance of literary texts. Clinicians who treat pain, people struggling to express their own pain, and scholars of literature and medicine will find much to appreciate in this book." — Arthur W. Frank, author of The Wounded Storyteller and The Renewal of Generosity

"Biro's meditation on pain beautifully distills metaphors of experience from literature, medicine, and real life. The author reveals how patients, struggling against isolation, reach out with words to touch their pain, and, in the process, touch others. Human connections transform pain for this doctor (and patient), who builds a welcoming bridge between clinical medicine and the humanities. Bravo!" — Arthur Kleinman, author of The Illness Narratives


David Biro

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One Hundred Days


A thirty-one-year-old doctor has just completed his residency and joined his father's successful dermatology practice. Physically fit, happily married, surrounded by a loving family, he is poised to take on the future-until the unthinkable occurs, and the doctor finds himself in a hospital gown, facing a terrifying diagnosis.

So begins David Biro's tale of metamorphosis from doctor to patient and-slowly, painfully-back again. Stricken with a rare blood disease that he decides to fight with a bone marrow transplant, Biro relates with honesty and courage the story of his most transforming journey. He is forthright about the advantages that his status as a physician may have afforded him; and yet no such advantage can protect him from the apprehension and doubt that encroach as he undergoes debilitating therapies and awaits the surgery that may save his life. The pressures that Biro's wild "one hundred days" bring to bear on his besieged body, his relationships, and his heretofore well-established identity as a caregiver rather than cared-for are enormous- as is the power of this riveting story of survival.


Endorsements and Reviews:

"[A] vivid memoir...lucid and gentle. It is the story of the doctor with the heart of a poet." The New York Times Book Review

“A harrowing tale of one man's journey to a place where, ultimately, privelege is no protection, told without a shred of self-pity or sentimentality.” — Entertainment Weekly

“For anyone contemplating a bone marrow transplant- this will be a valuable addition to the library of books that tell you and your family what to expect.” — Chicago Tribune

 

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