Anaesthesia – The Gift of Oblivion
Until 170 years ago many people chose death over the ordeal of surgery. Now hundreds of thousands undergo operations every day. Anaesthesia has made it possible. Kate Cole-Adams talks with Sarah L’Estrange about her book Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness.
You know how it is when you go under. The jab, the countdown, the—
—and then you wake. This book is about what happens in between.
How much do we really know about what happens to us on the operating table? Can we hear what’s going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don’t remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body’s experience of being cut open and ransacked? And how can we help ourselves through it?
Haunting, lyrical, sometimes shattering, Anaesthesia leavens science with personal experience to bring an intensely human curiosity to the unknowable realm beyond consciousness.
‘For the interested reader, it’s an outline of the science, with an emphasis on the unknown. For the practitioner, it’s a patient experience, eloquently expressed. There’s much more the anaesthesia than meets the eye, and this book provides a glimpse into the depths.’ Conversation
‘Anaesthesia is mesmerising…This rich and thorough study looks more deeply into questions about the nature of consciousness than many of us who undergo an anaesthetic are likely, or willing, to ponder.’Australian Book Review
‘Extraordinarily well-researched and delicately structured, this is a book with few parallels. Exceptional writing illuminates a topic that affects most of us, but that few of us understand.’ Judges’ Report, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, 2018
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