Authors

  1. Delzer, Nancy MBA, MSN, BC-PCM, AOCN

Article Content

by Kristin M. Swenson Baylor University Press, One Bear Place, 97363, Waco, TX 76798 Tele: (254) 710-3164 (254) 710-3440 E-mail: Jennifer_hannah@baylor.edu Website: http://www.baylorpress.com Price: $19.95

 

Living Through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness is written by Kristin M. Swenson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. Ms Swenson does a thorough job of describing how pain encompasses a person's entire being: physical, spiritual, psychological, and social.

 

Chapter 1 starts out with a brief description of three aspects of pain: the problem of pain, the problem of defining pain, and the problem of describing pain, which lays the groundwork for the rest of the chapters. These overlapping, interdependent aspects of pain demonstrate the magnitude of pain and its associated costs, as well as the need to see pain as more than a physical symptom. Descriptions of pain are problematic for the professional as well as the sufferer to understand, thereby complicating the act of describing.

 

Chapter 2 details the aspect of meaning making and pain and how pain can drive people to ask questions about why they are suffering. Pain can destroy a person's sense of self, as well as relationships with others. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to address everyone who is dealing with pain. The person with pain must find meaning in the experience, whether that comes from a scripture or some other context. With an understanding, or an acceptance, the person with pain can figure out how best to deal with it on an individual level, to bring about a "wholeness" or wellness.

 

Chapter 3 introduces the six Psalms used in this text, Psalms 6, 22, 38, 69, 88, and 102. The author talks about the historical background and literary characteristics of the selected Psalms from the Old Testament that show the difficulties of managing pain. These Psalms, written long ago, show how people have been suffering with pain for all time. The Psalms illustrate pain and suffering, as well as healing. Pain is a journey that has phases, including anguish, suffering, despair, acknowledgement, and acceptance.

 

Chapters 4 to 9 describe the pain experience and the relationship of the person in pain with his or her community, the ways the sufferer makes sense of his or her pain, the darkness and despair of constant pain, and finally, the acceptance and healing that can take place in regaining a sense of wholeness.

 

This book is not a self-help guide; rather, it is a resource that can be used by both professionals and those who suffer from pain. The book provides another perspective on the complex issue of pain, recognizing that it usually starts as physical pain and can lead to psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual pain. Each person presents differently and is challenged with how to deal with the pain, determine the reality of the pain experience, and then incorporate it into life in a way that allows the sufferer to continue to be who he or she is: a mother, wife, sister, a person who deals with daily pain.

 

The author had three primary objectives: first, to use the selected psalms to describe the meaning of pain; second, to demonstrate that attention to pain and the struggle to understand the many implications of pain has been a focus since ancient times; and finally, the author suggests using the psalms to treat and accept pain in one's life without trying to come up with a "magic bullet" to resolve it. These objectives were accomplished in this book.

 

This book is written at a level for people who may not have a strong understanding of the Bible. It is easy to understand and apply to everyday situations. It may provide comfort to people who are suffering from pain and have a strong faith background.

 

This book is appropriate for healthcare professionals, those in religious work, and lay persons who suffer from or care for persons in pain. Regardless of personal faith traditions, this book offers a fresh, thought-provoking perspective on the many facets of pain.