Dr. Paul Brand, who grew up son of English missionaries to South India, achieved world renown for his research on leprosy and related research on the dynamics of pain. This book, one of several of his reflections on physiology, combines autobiography, stories of research, and reflections on pain and pain management. The three topics roughly correspond to three discrete sections.

It opens with a story of the early death of a child with a rare neurological dysfunction that made her insensitive to pain. Brand's long work with victims of leprosy in India and then in Carville, Louisiana, gave him wide exposure to the consequences of life without adequate pain. Having spent 27 years in India, 25 years in England, and 27 years in the U.S. before writing this retrospective, many of his reflections include observations about cultural variables in perception of pain, how pain is communicated and managed, and how people deal philosophically with the problem of pain.


This lucid and compassionate story of a life of medical research and practice among sufferers of a disease that has deeply stigmatized its victims considers pain from medical, philosophical, cultural, and religious perspectives. Brand's reflections are woven around well-told tales of encounters with patients and other professionals, from which he learned both what questions to ask, and in what often unorthodox ways he might seek answers. His long life and cross-cultural experience, as well as the evident personal investment he brings to medicine as a ministry, and not just a profession, provide a dimension to this fine narrative that touches the heart, as well as offering detailed and usable information to those interested, personally or professionally, in pain management.


Written with Philip Yancey.


Harper Collins

Place Published

New York



Page Count