How to Heal Pain -
A Book Review for Pain is Really Strange

Pain is Really Strange – a book about how to heal pain when it's chronic.

Below you will find my enthusiastic book review.

If you are living with chronic pain, I recommend that you buy yourself a copy.
If you don’t, I hope this article will give you some insights and some hope that pain can be healed.
It won't be for everyone but this information is well worth knowing to see if it helps you.

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Overview of the Book

Pain Is Really Strange is a marvellous book.

It is a short graphic book, consisting of a series of cartoons with captions and research results from various studies on pain.

The book takes you through an explanation of what pain is, how it works, and ideas for how to heal pain.

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What is pain?

When we experience chronic pain repeatedly in a particular part of our body it is natural and in line with our cultural perception of pain, to worry that there is damage to the tissue or the joints.

However, research quoted in this book suggests that "The issue is not the tissues".

Likewise, if we go for a scan which reveals abnormalities such as protruding bone, curvature of the spine etc, we are led to believe that the pain is due to those unusual features.

However, research quoted in this book, suggests there is no correlation. There are plenty of people with those unusual features who experience no pain.

As for the suggestion that joint pain is due to the wearing out of the bones, there is no evidence that back pain or other joint pain increases with age.


What is the difference between acute pain and chronic pain?

This book explains that it takes three to six months for the body to repair itself after injury.

Any pain during this time can be called acute pain.  This is a “healing pain”, instructing us, for example, not to walk on a broken bone. We can heal the pain in the sense of finding ways to soften around the pain or take drugs to manage the pain, but we don’t want to ignore acute pain.

But after three to six months, there is no reason for your body to “do” pain. No healing is taking place. At this point the pain is labelled as chronic pain.

The theory for chronic pain is that the brain is not good at switching off the danger message  and therefore a habit of pain is formed.

(By the way, we don't want to ignore chronic pain either. But we can set out to heal chronic pain.)

Additional benefits of this book on how to heal pain

  • Someone living with chronic pain often has low concentration levels, so it is wonderful to have a book in graphic form.
  • We need to re-read a self help book on how to heal pain (or any other subject) to apply it to our life. The pictorial nature of this healing book lends itself to re-reading. I find myself sitting and looking at a piece of information combined with a picture.

How to heal pain

The last pages of Pain is Really Strange describe some methods for how to heal pain. I love the advice (and the accompanying image) to “go under the radar of your [chronic pain] alarm system”.

(I often use the language of using alternative healing methods to re-boot the computer system of my body and allow its default health program to run again.)

Although I have never before received such a clear explanation of pain, interestingly many of the techniques I use  follow Steve Haines 's advice on how to get under the radar of the chronic pain alarm system.

The following healing methods are not mentioned in the book, but you might want to look them up. I will write articles on them in the future.

EFT, NLP, visualisation, yoga nidra, Qi gong Healing, the Sedona method, CBT and graded activity.

Knowing more about why a certain healing method works encourages me to sit here with the book and quietly engage in a technique.

The instructions on how to heal pain are not detailed, and yet the whole book serves to heal pain. One of the wonderful research findings quoted is that reading information about how pain works along with 2 phone calls gave the same benefits in healing pain for whiplash as 20 sessions of physiotherapy!

Even the title of the book invites us to get curious about pain rather than the more natural response which is to tense up out of fear.

Healing pain – my experience

Before (and after) I lived with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for many years I had chronic knee pain. I was told this was due to a protrusion of bone which was rubbing against my muscles and ligaments and that I would probably have this chronic pain for the rest of my life. I was even given a fancy label – chondromalacia patella.

In the years of severe illness, due I believe to listening to a Qi Gong tape, the chronic pain healed.

Perhaps the healing came from overriding my body’s habit of pain.

Healing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Pain

You are visiting a website about healing which specialises in advice for healing within and beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I myself live with ME/CFS.

The book Pain is Really Strange is wonderful for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Firstly, it can hopefully help us to feel more curious about and relaxed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome pain.

Secondly, Pain is Really Strange points out that just as pain is a habit of the brain, so is tiredness.
Tiredness has the wonderful purpose of slowing us down to allow healing to take place. But tiredness is also strange. Tiredness can carry on long after it serves its original purpose, with devastating results for quality of life.

So, lovely people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, one possibility raised by this book is that our bodies have learned to do tiredness.

The good news is that lots of excellent healing methods bring us hope that we can re-set the brain’s alarm system to bring us healing from tiredness.

Steve Haines with Sophie Standing on illustrations have done a beautiful thing in providing us with the book Pain is Really Strange.
I will be buying copies for friends in the future, and I give it a very high recommendation.

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Wishing you health both within and beyond illness,


Katherine T Owen

Katherine T Owen runs this website -

She is author of Be Loved, Beloved (Read it in paperback at or on kindle)

Articles related to How to Heal Pain

  • An acquaintance experienced remarkable alternative healing from back pain by reading John Sarno's book, which I talk about here, along with other mind body books.
  • Chronic pain and depression can sometimes go together. You might want to check out an article on natural healing for depression by hypnotherapist Peter Field.

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner. The articles on this website are not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult a medical practitioner as necessary.

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