Medicine: The Problem of Pain

What is pain? Everybody knows because everybody has suffered it, but nobody can tell anybody else. Dictionaries are hopeless.* The late Sir Charles Sherrington, who collected no fewer than 22 honorary doctorates for his brilliant researches in physiology, called pain "the psychical adjunct of an imperative protective reflex." That may be fine for another physiologist, but it is no help to a man with a nail through his foot. Although pain is what drives most patients to a doctor, it is the symptom to which, all too often, doctors pay least attention. One...

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