Pain, Pus and Poi­son

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Mon­day, 8.30pm, SBS One The ti­tle is some­what off-putting, but this is the fas­ci­nat­ing story of how great minds dis­cov­ered how to ‘‘ delete and erase’’ pain. Doc­tor, jour­nal­ist and pop­u­lar TV pre­sen­ter ( In­side the Hu­man Body) Michael Mosley leads us through two cen­turies of ‘‘ greed, luck and ge­nius’’ as var­i­ous ex­perts and quacks try to find the an­swer to solv­ing pain. To­day it’s un­think­able that a pa­tient wouldn’t be anaes­thetised be­fore an op­er­a­tion — be it for a leg am­pu­ta­tion or root canal ther­apy — but 200 years ago it was a case of pass the tool kit and muf­fle the screams. In 1804, af­ter ex­per­i­ment­ing on him­self with al­most fa­tal con­se­quences, Ger­man phar­ma­col­o­gist Friedrich Ser­turner iso­lated mor­phine from opium — ar­guably the sin­gle most im­por­tant event in drug dis­cov­ery. Thank you, Herr Ser­turner. Mosley com­pletely loses the plot and laughs like a girl af­ter a burst of ni­trous ox­ide and, pre­tend­ing to be a heart sur­geon, tries to re­sist a dose of the truth drug but ends up con­fess­ing all to an amused col­league.

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