A life spent in pain

June 25, 1999

Over 40 years ago I began to examine the nervous system of animals. It was immediately apparent that the predicted hard-wired, line-dedicated, specialised pain system did not exist. Rather, there is a subtle multiplexed reactive system that informs us simultaneously about events in the tissues and in the thinking parts of the brain.

As a consequence of these studies, it was clear that the sensation for perception was quite artificial and that sensory and cognitive mechanisms operated as a whole. Since that time, a large number of highly inventive scientists, psychologists and clinicians have joined forces to create a contemporary picture of pain mechanisms.

Study and concern about pain has been growing for 20 years. I admire the new breed of clinicians who are leading treatment out of the barren desert of ignorance and neglect.

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