first do no harm

I caught a really interesting piece on NPR's Fresh Air this afternoon. Terry Gross was interviewing English neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who recently wrote a book titled Do No Harm. You can read about or listen to the story here, Dr Marsh read an excerpt from his book where he described, essentially, the wonder and intricacies of operating on the living human brain. I can't wait to listen to this book on my next road trip this summer. Applicable to my profession was Dr Marsh's explanation on the sensation of pain:

Thomas Dunne Books

On how the brain creates pain 

"A lot of what we think is real and obvious, in fact, is, well you could call it an illusion in a way. If I got pain in my hand the pain is not actually in the hand, the pain is my brain. My brain creates a three-dimensional model of the world and associates the nerve impulses coming from the pain receptors in my hand with pain in the hand and it create this illusion that the pain is actually in the hand itself, and it isn't. The more you look into neuroscience the more strange and confusing it becomes."

I find this so inspiring to read - that we all have the potential to control our own pain with the power of our brain. What are your thoughts? Can you imagine undergoing brain surgery under only local anesthesia and watching the play-by-play on a video screen?

Jen CraftComment