The Painful Truth by Monty Lyman (book review).

Does it hurt? From reading Monty Lyman’s book, ‘The Painful Truth’, your life expediency is higher if it is because you take fewer risks when you can’t feel pain. Lyman cites various examples throughout this book as well.

As my own agoraphobia means I’m mostly drug intolerant, I have to tolerate any pain from an old shoulder injury and anywhere else come to that, he says being reminded of several tendon strains recently. I’m certainly not complacent about it but can tolerate all but the odd intense pain. A book such as this suddenly became something worth having a read of as pain is something we all have in common.

Controlling how we tolerate pain has to be of interest to all of us even more. As Dr. Lyman points out, it is the body’s intolerance mechanism that warns us of discomfort but also produces counter-measures to bring it into check.

His discussion on the placebo effect also shows it can be kicked in if we believe a medication is going to work is even more interesting as it shows a fascinating side to our own bodies. That’s not to say some pain control drugs aren’t required but for long-term problems, they can also cause problems in terms of addiction and this clearly needs deeper investigation. There should be a book on intense interest as this book grew increasingly as I read and hitting on all the right subjects in the right order.

I was waiting to hear his comments on empathy and got more than I expected in Chapter 7. The nature of my own clinical empathy is to avoid crowds because collective emotion is toxic, although one on one is thinking with other people’s emotions. Reading about people who other people’s pain intensely, shows what a range empathy really has, not to mention how complex this ability is.

It’s only the psychopathic types who lack this ability fitting neatly into the wrong end of the Boolean curve. Sharing someone’s pain is the way to knowing they have problems. Rather scarily, there is also some innate racism not just to colour but to young babies not realising they need pain-killing drugs for heart operations which has now been corrected shows there is a need to examine old procedures for improvements from time to time.

The last three chapters explore chronic pain and how to cope with it. Yoga breathing is shown to be very effective for some pain control but it can also extend to any stress problem. Distraction is also handy which might explain why my Fortnite playing has gone up a bit in the past couple months. Both things I was well aware of but nice to be confirmed here.

It should go without saying that if you have a persistent pain problem then see your doctor and see if there is any underlying cause and what they can do about it. The pain is there to remind you that there is something wrong. Having some understanding of it should offer some ways for self-control.

If there is a non-fiction book that you should read this year then this is the one. Not necessarily for pain you have had or current but also for the future so you can prepare yourself. A fascinating study that needs further exploration. Don’t let it hurt for too long.

GF Willmetts

July 2021

(pub: Bantam Press/Penguin, 2021. 237 page illustrated hardback. Price: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78763-240-0)

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One thought on “The Painful Truth by Monty Lyman (book review).

  • This article is spot on. I can’t tolerate pain meds and must rely on Asprin only. So I do all kinds of things yoga, etc to keep my pain to a tolerable level.


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