Review of the book: Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants

Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants

Review of the book: Pain, The Gift Nobody WantsPain, The Gift Nobody Wants

This article is a review of the book: Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants, By Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey.  The subtitle is: Warning: Life Without Pain Could Really Hurt You.  I was given this book by a friend who is a medical professional and who knew how I suffered with chronic pain.  

At first I wasn’t motivated to read it.  Because yeah, I already knew I didn’t want the “gift” of pain.  But I became hooked on the first page as Dr. Brand recounted a story about a four year old girl who couldn’t feel pain.  

I admit, I am a sucker for case studies and stories.  People fascinate me. I feel we can always learn something from everyone.  This book is filled with case studies, based mostly on Dr. Brand’s experiences in his career.  

Anyway, as I read, I became familiar with the author and his story.   This man dedicated his life to treating patients with leprosy. He came to be recognized as a world renowned hand surgeon.  His work to repair hands and feet that had been damaged because of leprosy was groundbreaking.  

Certainly, he was someone to be admired.  And he had the authority to speak about pain and suffering, so I continued reading the book.  I’m glad I did.

Some Facts I Learned

Did you know?

  • Leprosy is curable
  • It attacks the nerves, thus causing an inability to feel pain
  • It is caused by a slow growing bacteria
  • You can only catch it by coming in repeated contact with someone who has untreated leprosy

So you can understand the title of the book, because thousands of people with leprosy suffered secondary problems caused by not being able to feel pain.  If you want more information on this disease, here is a link to WebMD.  

Who Would Read This Book?

Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants

Why would you want to read this book?  Well, I think it would make you a better person if you did.  Why do I think that? Because it is a real life story of a self sacrificing man who gave his life to alleviate the sufferings of others.  I believe we are all naturally selfish and self absorbed. This book inspires us to be otherwise.  

You should read it because:

  • It is inspiring
  • It teaches about compassion
  • It provides medical and scientific data about a contagious disease that still affects thousands
  • It helps you realize you aren’t the only one suffering pain
  • It challenges you to be more caring to those who have suffered some sort of deformity

Dr. Brand  was a Christian, who truly lived out his faith in serving his fellow man.  Who knows what you might learn from this story?  

Following are practical lessons I learned that you can use in your life as a sufferer or one who cares for sufferers.  

What Makes Things Worse For Pain Sufferers?

Suffering from pain and physical differences is hard enough.  Add to that other problems and you magnify the suffering. In chapter 17 of this book, there are some very practical topics that we all need to remember when dealing with pain and suffering.  These practices make pain worse. What are they?

  1. Fear: Fear of a new environment, like a hospital, or of a treatment, rank high on this scale.  Fear adds stress to those of us already suffering. If you can provide knowledge and experience in these fearful situations, you are on the road to making the suffering less.
  2. Anger: Anger at the situation or other circumstances surrounding the pain can interfere with treatment and relief.  These feelings must be addressed and overcome for the person to progress toward healing.
  3. Guilt: Guilt from our past can plague us all.  Pain resulting from past experiences may halt the ability of the person to go forward.  Some of our cultures look on suffering as punishment from God. We are not in a position to judge that.  But the person must be helped to move beyond these feelings. Listening and praying are a good place to start.
  4. Loneliness: Being cut off from our fellow man can result in more pain.  Cultures where the patient is surrounded by family and friends have been shown to hasten healing and health.  Conversely, someone left alone to suffer is doubly hurt.
  5. Helplessness: It appears our western medicine can foster this in patients, making them dependent on doctors and medicine.  It has now been scientifically proven that having the sufferer take charge and responsibility for their recovery helps toward pain management and less suffering. 

How to Help Someone Who is In Pain

As a chronic pain sufferer, I have become much more aware of fellow pain sufferers.  If pain has any place in your life, then I suggest you read this book.  

Here’s what I came away with.

Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants


Touch is incredibly powerful to those who suffer.  Especially if their appearance isn’t “normal”. They already suffer with pain, and then we ostracize them.  Yes, we have to be careful in this day of corona viruses, but when was the last time you put your hand on a shoulder to encourage?  Or hugged someone who was sad or down?  

Dr. Brand recounts a story where he put his arm around a leprosy patient while presenting his research to a group of doctors in China.  He writes, “The doctors around us sucked in their breath sharply. One of them later told me that single act impressed the doctors more than anything else we said or did in China.” (pg 314, Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants)  

So as long as you can’t infect someone or they can’t infect you, then touch the pain sufferer.  You don’t have any idea how you might lift their spirits.


I had heard before that occupying your mind can help relieve pain.  Dr. Brand explained why. Apparently our brain can only process so much information.  So if we are engaged in some other activity or focus, the brain can’t accept the pain signals, and therefore we don’t feel pain.  

This is the foundation of the skill of autosuggestion, where some individuals can divert their attention so that they don’t feel pain.  Though most of us don’t have the discipline that might take, we can attempt to refocus on other activities to take away pain’s power.  

I have found this to be true in my suffering.  Working on my posts and developing my website keeps my mind centered on information, and not on my pain.  


The author compares the AIDS epidemic to the historical sufferings of those with leprosy.  The way our society has treated those suffering this disease has been to ostracize and judge.  This is another situation where we need compassion instead of judgment. Especially from those of us who claim to be Christians.  

Here’s a short video with the co-author, Philip Yancey talking about the impact Christians have made on the fight against leprosy.


What do you think?  Please leave a comment or concern here.  I would especially love to hear from you if you have read the book.  What did you learn?  

It is my hope you have been encouraged and challenged by this article.  I hope your day will be made better while you think about this article. Just reading the book will refocus your mind and perhaps relieve your pain for a period of time.  

You can purchase this book at Amazon.  Click here.  I currently do not receive any compensation for this link.  I am not yet signed up as an affiliate marketer.

And just in case you thought to yourself, I wonder if I could build a website, then go here.  The answer is yes!  The link will take you to Wealthy Affiliate, the company I am using to build my site.  If you want to read a post about what I think of WA, click here.


How Working While In Pain Can Keep You Out of Trouble

Woman at work
Woman at work
Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Okay, maybe not keep you out of trouble if that’s what you want to get into, but at least refocus your suffering.  If you are bent on getting into trouble, then I can’t stop you.  But you might want to reconsider the consequences of your decisions.  Like taking Uber if you’ve been drinking.

It was my goal to write another article on my website for the past few days.  But new pain has presented itself into my life and I just couldn’t get going.  What did I have to write about?  Why bother?  Nobody seems to care about what I have to say.  Am I even being helpful?  Are pain and work linked?

Then I thought about the fact that there are millions of people that do work through their pain.  Surely if that is the case, I can do the same.  So this article will be about helpful tips that I found while reseaching this topic.  If it helped me, I hope it will help you also.

Take a look at some of my other articles.  For my buttock pain I have found stretches and acupuncture very helpful.  But I suggest you look at other ones on this site.  Who knows?  One of the articles may be helpful in finding some relief to your suffering.

Albarubescens Wikimedia Commons

Where Is Your Focus?

One of the first things that helped me today was doing a web search of how to work when I am in pain.  That’s how I came up with some suggestions.  But the solution is twofold because just the activity of sitting at the computer and researching is a way to relieve pain.  In other words, having your mind engaged in something else takes your focus off of your pain.  Which is the main idea of the title of this article in the first place.  Working refocuses your mental state and takes away the power of the pain.

I also read about a practice where you STOP your mind in it’s tracks when you are focusing on the pain.  Then you TELL yourself a hopeful thought, like “This will get better”.  Finally, you REFOCUS on your present task.  This would be an easy task to do anywhere, especially at work.  So we see that focus is very important.  Here is a link from SpineHealth that suggests other focusing techiniques.  I haven’t tried them all, but maybe one or two of them would be helpful to you.

Check Out These Suggestions

A Couple of Helpful Links

Here is a great post by a woman (Elly Copeland) who suffers from Crohn’s disease and depression and has ADHD.  I found her suggestions extremely helpful.  They also support my research and experiences.  She is honest and well spoken.  She knows her topic because she knows pain.  I highly recommend this post.  Stop right now and check it out.  Here is another post from Health that provides some of the same suggestions and a few more.  I especially recommend the one about moving, or changing positions.  In my former job I could sit at my desk hard at work and never get up.  That is a recipe for pain.  Move and stretch.  And move often.  If you sit in one position for extended periods, you are making the pain worse, and will lose ground on managing your pain.

Find a Compassionate Person

Although you may not be able to talk to someone while at work, if you can, I recommend it.  Find a caring person and spend a few minutes letting them know how you are feeling.  You never know if they might have a suggestion that would be helpful.  And just talking about your pain to an emphatic person is helpful.  Having someone validate your pain is such a relief.  Find that person.

Krisphotwrld Wikimedia Commons

When you are off work, try journaling.  I was surprised when I started this activity.  I am not a natural writer, but once I started putting my thoughts on paper, I was astonished how they continued to flow.  I frequently made some profound discoveries from this.  Plus just the activity of writing will refocus your mind and you will not feel as much pain.  Also, journaling can clear your mind of other concerns and worries.  Who knows, you might come up with some very profound insights.  Insights that could change your life!

Support Groups

Look for support groups in your community.  Did you know that there is an organization called American Chronic Pain Association?  Check out their website.  It is extensive.  They have a few videos to watch that are very encouraging.  Also, you can see if there is a group in your area, or if not, start one!  This is a vital part of managing our pain, by finding a community that understands our sufferings because they too suffer.

Relaxation Breathing

Can you take a few minutes for some relaxation breathing?  Find a quiet place away from any interruptions and distractions.  I found a great free app called Breathe.  Type it into your app search.  It will guide you through various exercises depending on your needs.  It will take less than 10 minutes for you to do some relaxation breathing.  This relaxation exercise helps manage the pain.  See also my post regarding Meditation.


Is there a chance that you need to just get away from work for a break?  If your work is stressful, that is only adding to your pain.  More stress = more pain.  A vacation can be refreshing to your mind, body and soul.  Especially if you practice some of the recommended techiniques you’ll find through the links here.


Writing this article took work on my part.  I had to research and concentrate on learning.  Then I had to write it in my own words.  You can see that to find relief from your pain you are going to have to work at it.  But I know that once these practices become habits, it will be less work and you will find more relief.  But do commit to WORK at lessening your pain!

I welcome your comments.  I especially welcome recommendations so I can do further research and posts and hopefully help out another pain sufferer.  Thanks for reading.

And just be advised that if you click on any ads and end up purchasing something, I receive a small amount of compensation from that affiliate.  Thanks.

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