CORVALLIS, Ore. - Pain and Its Meaning, a series of events at Oregon State University focused on issues of chronic pain, will culminate with a talk by Melanie Thernstrom, author of a New York Times-best-selling book on the topic.

Thernstrom's talk, "The Pain Chronicles: Narrative, Culture, and the Science of Suffering," begins at 7 p.m. on April 7 in the Construction & Engineering Auditorium of OSU's LaSells Stewart Center. It is free and open to the public.

Chronic pain is among the most misdiagnosed, widespread, and under-treated syndromes in the developed world, despite the fact that recent science has revealed that it can, over time, cause pathological changes in the brain and spinal cord. Thernstrom will tell the story of her personal journey in trying to find treatment for chronic pain, as well as stories from the pain specialists and the patients they treated whom she observed for eight years.

She also will discuss conceptions of pain throughout history - from ancient Babylonian pain-banishing spells to contemporary modern brain imaging - to examine the elusive, mysterious nature of pain itself.

Thernstrom is the author of "The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering."

A contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, Thernstrom is the author of two other books, including the best-selling memoir, "The Dead Girl" (Pocket, 1990).

Thernstrom serves as a member of the Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Education and Care of the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, created in 2010 in response to a congressional mandate to investigate the state of pain treatment in the United States. She lives with her husband and twin toddlers near Portland.

The event is sponsored by the Hundere Endowment in Religion and Culture and the Visiting Writers Series.

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Courtney Campbell, 541-737-6196