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Pain Concern Book Club — Where Does It Hurt?: Life With Chronic Pain — A Memoir by Tim Atkinson

Book review as fea­tured arti­cle in Pain Press — Jan­u­ary 2022

Book Review: Where Does It Hurt?: Life With Chron­ic Pain — A Mem­oir by Tim Atkin­son
Dot­ter­el Press, 249 pp, £9.99
ISBN: 978–0956286932
Pub­lished: Sep­tem­ber 2021

Tim Atkinson’s Where Does It Hurt?: Life With Chron­ic Pain – A Mem­oir is a unique book in that it brings togeth­er a 360 degree view on liv­ing with pain. It isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a self-help book, although it is undoubt­ed­ly a use­ful resource for peo­ple with pain, it is more sim­i­lar to an ency­clo­pe­dia than a self-help book. Atkin­son brings togeth­er lived expe­ri­ence, the his­to­ry of pain, per­son­al diary entries and inter­est­ing facts to cre­ate a gem of pain literature.


The writ­ing style Atkin­son utilis­es in Where Does It Hurt? is acces­si­ble and easy to read, but most impor­tant­ly Atkinson’s voice is a relat­able one to pain suf­fer­ers, because he is a pain suf­fer­er him­self. In fact, his own lived expe­ri­ence runs through­out the book in the form of diary excerpts and per­son­al opin­ions. This serves as a fre­quent reminder to the read­er that they are not alone in their pain, which can be an extreme­ly iso­lat­ing expe­ri­ence. In learn­ing about the author’s pain, we can open our­selves up to learn­ing more about our own pain as well.


This isn’t just a book about Atkin­sons pain jour­ney though. Where Does It Hurt?: is full of his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion about pain and its treat­ment, notable research and sci­ence exper­i­ments, pop cul­ture ref­er­ences and a sense of humour which makes it a joy to read. Atkin­son cov­ers a vast range of top­ics from substance/medication abuse prob­lems to post-surgery recov­ery and does so in a way which is clear and easy to understand.


The only issue with acces­si­bil­i­ty that the book may have is its lack of a con­tents page and chap­ter head­ings. Some­times, peo­ple with pain may not be able to read or hold a book for long and hav­ing clear head­ings can help peo­ple get to the infor­ma­tion they need faster. How­ev­er, the con­tent and writ­ing style are of a stan­dard which would be use­ful to any­body who lives with pain or wants to learn more about it.


Where Does It Hurt?: Life With Chron­ic Pain – A Mem­oir by Tim Atkin­son is an excel­lent, infor­ma­tion packed book about life with pain, writ­ten by some­one who knows what it’s like. There is no sense of being preached at or talked down to when you are read­ing it. Atkinson’s book is a cathar­tic learn­ing expe­ri­ence and a gate­way to explor­ing and under­stand­ing your own pain more.

Review by Jen­nifer Bowey, Man­ag­ing Edi­tor & Project Co-ordi­na­tor at Pain Concern