Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Pain does not exist in this dojo, does it?"
Sensei John Kreese and his demented dojo dwellers from The Karate Kid on how to deal with pain...
Of course, whilst the members of the Cobra Kai might have a slightly different approach to overly stimulating skin pressure to you and I, it shouldn't be doubted that there is definitely a subjective element to the sensation of pain. After all, taken to extremes, one man's pain is another's pleasure; however this excellent 36-page work doesn't get into those realms, instead concentrating on the current critical scientific thinking on the nature of pain and our physiological, psychological and indeed emotional experiences of it. Plus how, perhaps, with the right approach from both patients and doctors alike, we can alter the perception of pain to make it far more manageable, without having to resort to the usual pharmacopoeia of medicinal delights.
Probably the major argument the author and long-time healthcare professional Steve Haines puts forward is that to understand an individual's pain, you first need to understand the individual, because the experience of chronic pain is an incredibly complex phenomenon arising from a large number of interconnected and interrelated systems, both of body and mind. Thus two people could have exactly the same 'injury' but experience extremely different levels of pain.
Which all sounds like a very heavy read, however this work is beautifully illustrated by Sophie Standing in a manner that conveys the more complex concepts and theories of neurophysiology put forward by Steve, just as clearly as the witty look at brain chemistry that is NEUROCOMIC, or even the headscratching theorems of quantum physics in FEYNMAN.
As Nick Sousanis explained in his recent expansive graphic novel PhD submission UNFLATTENING, images can convey meaning and thus understanding far more simply and eloquently than words alone can do. And that is abundantly true here as Steve examines the process of how pain arises right through to how our very different individual subjective experiences of it occur.
Plus it is very impressive production qualities too from Singing Dragon, akin to a Nobrow release, all neatly sutured, sorry saddle-stitched, with inviting French flaps that always add a touch of gravitas to a smaller sized release.
This is an intriguing and informative look at a subject which we all have first-hand, personal experience of, typically the myriad acute comedy to catastrophic variations on the theme, but is utterly devastating for many chronic sufferers. I have to say I personally agree with his thinking, that the experience of pain can be, to a degree at least, ameliorated by changing the sufferer's mental approach to it. But I've never seen the whole process of how one might practically go about doing just that explained so simply. This is a work which actually ought to be handed out to all GPs and is another very worthy addition to the rapidly burgeoning genre of graphic medicine.