Barbara Altemus has worked in the healing field for over twenty-five years and this book is a result of her own healing journey. She invites us to share her story, and the stories of notables such as Iyanla Vanzant, Martin Sheen, Isabel Allende as they relate the transformations that took place when they confronted their hurt.


Physical pain manifests for many reasons, and Ms. Altemus suggests that spiritual, emotional and mental healing can also be used to alleviate root causes of pain. When we become stuck in the pain, we only see the hurt. It’s the working through the pain/the addiction/the loss, that the greater lesson is learned.


Each of the nine chapters in The Gift of Pain focus on a particular aspect of pain and hurt, from the death of a loved one, to illness; from recovery from addiction, to separation and divorce. In each chapter, the author uses life situations from her clients, and from celebrities and healers, to illustrate her points. “Pain pushes, vision pulls” struck me as a particularly appropriate quote to sum up this book. When we stop our frenzied lives to recognize and heed the siren call of pain, we begin our healing process. As we heal, we can let go of patterns that no longer serve us. Only then, can we lift ourselves to the levels that allow our “visions” – of ourselves, or our lives, to take place.


This book is well written and easy to read. I think it brings the concept of “pain” out of the shadows, because our society is often quick to stop pain – by pain relievers, alcohol, drugs, or by simply ignoring it. Yet pain can teach a valuable lesson if you’re willing to explore the causes and confront yourself. Instead viewing pain as a sensation to be quickly gotten rid of, it is a reminder that there is often something deeper that needs attention.


~review by Karen Phillippi

Author: Barbara Altemus

Perigee Trade

pp. 240, $14.95