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September 1973

Pain And Religion: A Psychophysiologic Study.

Author Affiliations

New Orleans


By Steven F. Brena, MD. Price, $8.95. Pp 160. Charles C Thomas Publisher, 301-327 E Lawrence Ave, Springfield, IL 62703, 1972.

Arch Intern Med. 1973;132(3):457-458. doi:10.1001/archinte.1973.03650090127028

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This is a fascinating book that deals innovatively with some mutual concerns of medicine and religion. The central thesis of the book is concerned with an attempt to show that the phenomenon of pain can be considered a point of convergence between the teaching of science and the in-depth teaching of all religions. The same neurophysiological and mental mechanisms that subserve sensory perception also subserve religious experience. Between perception of pain and mystical intuition, the author emphasizes, there is a bridge of nervous functions grounded on a common anatomy and on similar learning principles.

The first part of the book deals with the religious teachings of East and West, concerning primarily sensory and mystical experiences; they are discussed from a psychophysiological standpoint. The remainder of the book deals with sensory experience and pain. The issues in the neurophysiology and psychology of pain are discussed from many directions: sensory input, motor

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