Melanie Thernstrom’s “My Pain, My Brain” is a fascinating article which examines pain and its relation with the brain through a biological and occasionally philosophical lens. Thernstrom’s account of her own experience with chronic pain and the f. M.R.I. scan that she underwent which allowed her to view and interact with her own brain activity is interwoven with information regarding brain processes and stories about various treatments relating to pain and how different mindsets effect the perception of pain. Thernstrom paints a detailed picture of the complexity of pain; how the interaction of multiple areas of the brain gives rise to pain and how a person’s emotions or conscious thoughts can either augment or dull pain. At certain points the article also takes a philosophical turn, as when Thernstrom wonders who is ultimately controlling her brain. At the end of the article, Thernstrom’s writing again takes on a philosophical tone when she quotes D. Daniel Carr, who put forth the question would a person be able to understand consciousness if it was explained to him or her by a higher power.
Thernstrom seems to be writing to give the audience a better understanding of the nature of pain so that they can then have a clearer idea as to how neuroimaging works and why it is so significant. The article is suffused with medical terminology that would be difficult for the average reader to follow had Thernstrom not made a point of clarifying any obscure terms. The piece never takes on a clinical tone, as the author’s personal connection with enduring pain makes the article relatable as well as moving. She demonstrates her knowledge of pain and of neuroimaging through her own stories as well as through her explanation of the brains biological relation with pain. Thernstrom clearly wants an effective, lasting cure for chronic pain to be found, but also acknowledges that with this new technology, more meaningful questions and discoveries regarding consciousness will likely emerge.