Breaking Through the Pain Barrier

A biography on pioneering Australian pain specialist, Michael J. Cousins by Gabriella Kelly-Davies.

Breaking Through the Pain Barrier cover


In 1964 a junior doctor saw two critically burned boys limp into a Sydney hospital begging for help. He saved their lives but struggled to reduce their suffering because few pain treatments existed. That doctor dedicated his life to reducing suffering by improving the treatment of pain.

In a career that spanned 50 years, Dr Michael Cousins led the pain world, and crusaded tirelessly for access to pain management to be viewed as a universal human right. He and his colleagues advanced treatments such as epidural analgesia and spinal cord stimulation that revolutionised pain management.

“He gave me back my life.”

Breaking Through the Pain Barrier will be available on 25 July 2021. Pre-order now to receive a certified First Edition Copy. RRP $32.95.

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Testimonials for Breaking Through the Pain Barrier

‘The fascinating journey and breakthroughs of a compassionate and driven doctor dedicated to reducing patient pain.’

Tara Moss, Bestselling Author & Painaustralia Champion.

‘If you want to know the inner workings of medicine—of the people behind the breakthroughs and the advances, then this is the book for you. It charts an arc of over 50 years in the life of a remarkable individual. This is a fascinating reading.’

Dr Marc Russo, Pain Medicine Specialist.

‘I am enthralled and can’t put the book down. The fascinating story of the man who brought pain medicine to Australia and devoted his life to the pursuit of pain relief.’

John D. Loeser, M. D, Pain Medicine Pioneer.

‘Professor Cousins has shown impressive devotion to understanding and treating pain that will have an enduring impact on the quality of life for so many Australians for decades to come.’

Pete Rudland, Former SAS Trooper.

Breaking Through the Pain Barrier is a worthy tribute to Professor Michael Cousins. So many patients have benefited from the work Prof Cousins has done to improve the care of pain patients, from his holistic approach to pain and focus on brain re-training, pacing and neuroscience. It’s an engaging book, showing the reader the clinician, researcher and Prof Cousins’ family life as well. It offers hope to patients too, that pain can be better managed through access to holistic pain clinics and services.’

Sophie Scott, Journalist, Broadcaster, Author and Pain Champion.

‘A meticulous, inspiring study of one extraordinary life. Gabriella Kelly-Davies’ compelling and passionate account shows how medicine can be transformed by the power of one individual. This work of integrity and compassion offers us some much-needed hope.’

Lee Kofman, Author of Imperfect.

‘A revealing book about an exceptional man who changed the way Australia responds to pain.’

Carol Bennett, CEO, Painaustralia.

‘This is a profoundly moving  book celebrating the life and legacy of a remarkable man. As his patient and biographer, Gabriella, overlooks nothing as she records Michael Cousins’ ground-breaking achievements and life-long commitment to improving the treatment of pain. Gabriella reveals the victories and frustrations of Michael’s medical career, as well as his great human qualities: a kind and caring physician, a loyal friend and devoted family man. This is a book to bring joy to any reader: a fellow physician or simply a fellow human being.’

Lesley Brydon AM, Founding CEO Painaustralia.

‘Michael Cousins is a rare person whose vision for pain management is matched by his intellect and compassion. Michael’s work has made a difference to the lives of not only Australians but those living with pain conditions everywhere.’

Robert Regan, Former Chair Painaustralia, and Group General Counsel and Company Secretary Downer Group.

I always find it interesting to read of a subject’s origins and see how those influenced the outcome of their life. I highly recommend Breaking Through the Pain Barrier to people interested in biographies of extraordinary achievement, those in the medical profession, and anyone who experiences chronic pain. Read full review.

Cate Sawyer, Author.

‘Professor Cousins is a dedicated researcher and clinician who is committed to achieving lasting change in the way that Australia and many other countries around the world address chronic pain.  I commend this book to those with an interest in making a difference in the lives of those affected by complex health and other challenges.’

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, Painaustralia Patron.

For more Breaking Through the Pain Barrier reviews:


Cate Sawyer

Further Reading:

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