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Book Reviews
March 2000

Pain and Suffering

Author Affiliations



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by William K. Livingston, 250 pp, $48, Seattle, Wash, IASP Press, 1998.


Copyright 2000 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2000

Arch Neurol. 2000;57(3):421. doi:

Pain and Suffering is a historical book published 35 years after its author's death. It directly conveys to the reader the inspiring work and life of one of the pioneers in the field of pain medicine. It is the exciting story of a passionate investigator who pursued questions with vivid intensity throughout his medical career. We follow Livingston's brilliant and enthusiastic search to uncover the true nature of pain from his surgical residency, to private practice, to his job with the Oregon State Industrial Accident Commission, to the war years, and finally to his appointment as chair of surgery at the University of Oregon. As true researchers should aim to do, he succeeded in transforming every phase of his career into the best possible experimental setting to answer his query. Livingston's contributions to the field of pain medicine stemmed from his perpetual questioning of the traditional specificity theory of pain, leading the way for new concepts that, even now, are inspiring researchers in this field. Classic clinical pictures of the most diverse pain syndromes are surrounded by exciting work in the pathophysiology of visceral, somatic, peripheral, and central neuropathic pain. His concepts of the central role of disuse in causing and worsening chronic pain states and the key role of restoring normal input as the main form of treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome are examples of how his clinical intuitions fostered the introduction of scientific concepts of contemporary interest, such as neuronal plasticity. This book is recommended to researchers in any field who view science as the exciting endeavor of a lifetime rather than the next pharmaceutical company drug trial. Everyone with an interest in the field of pain medicine, from both research and clinical standpoints, should read this book.

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