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Editorial Reviews From Booklist:

American Library Association Review:

When it can't be avoided, pain--physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological--often prompts such questions as Why me? Why now? Why this?

When Altemus experienced pain in her life she had similar questions. As a healer and participant in the international peace movement, however, she sought deeper answers. She wanted to know whether pain in general had a purpose, and, if so, what is that purpose?

By interviewing more than two dozen internationally known celebrities--the likes of Deepak Chopra, Isabel Allende, Goldie Hawn, and Dick Gregory--she learned that each of them had not only experienced profound individual pain but had also used pain as a stepping stone, a rung on the ladder of self-growth.

As Allende says, "I have never changed out of joy. What forces me to change is something stressful, something very painful." Altemus interweaves stories of her own experiences with those of the world's visionaries, healers, and peacemakers as she explores and illustrates numerous ways in which resilient people can emerge better and stronger from debilitating experiences.

Donna Chavez, American Library Association

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Honolulu Star Bulletin  February 2004

Palm Springs Desert Sun - October 2003

The Honolulu Advertiser - October 2003


New Dimensions Worldwide Radio Review:

"On a personal level, pain is a part of life. On a broader scale, our sense of security in the world has been shaken by catastrophic events such as the attacks of 9/11, the tsunami, and hurricane Katrina. How can we avoid burying the fear and the hurt till they harden our hearts and ferment into rage? Drawing on the teachings of Native American spirituality, the elements of nature, and the spirits of loved ones who have passed on, Barbara Altemus has found ways not only to heal from pain, but to transform the spirit in the process. She defines clear strategies for reconnecting to the earth, to our communities, and to our spirituality, so that even in the most difficult times we discover our strength, our beauty, and a greater sense of who we are. "When we're aligned with that greater intelligence-call it what you want, God, Great Mystery, Great Spirit, Buddha-and feel our connection to that greater force and to all the elements and all of life, then we're protected, and we're exactly where we need to be, doing what we need to be doing." Ms. Altemus candidly shares her own struggle to overcome betrayal and loss, and shows us how to move through pain and find our lives richer on the other side."

Justine Willis Toms, New Dimensions Worldwide Radio

Midwest Book Review:

I believe we have all experienced pain in our lives. We may try to dodge it, ignore it, bury it, but alas it still seems to creep into our everyday existence. I have heard all the old additives that without pain we would not know we were hurt, of course I would rather just not know myself, but that is not the way of life.

In Ms. Altemus's book she tells her story of pain and shares how she turned that pain into a positive aspect in her life. She also incorporates stories from such people as Goldie Hawn, Martin Sheen and many others. They share tales of their pain and how it became a turning point in their lives. Each one tells of the force that they clung to and how it helped them to overcome. Whether it be God, a person, an idea or a belief, and they share how they used this focal point to turn their pain into a positive.

If you are hurting, or have been hurt, and haven't we all; you will find encouragement in the words of this book. The stories of those who have not given into the pain but have used it to transform their lives will help you to overcome your own pain and lead you to a path of healing.

Shirley Johnson/Senior Reviewer, MidWest Book Review

Mind, Body, Spirit Magazine Review:

None of us are immune to pain-the slings and arrows of a sometimes cruel world. But Barbara Altemus's, "The Gift of Pain, Transforming Hurt Into Healing," can offer some insight how each one of us can overcome these hurts and continue on with hope and happiness. Altemus blends the story of her own personal journey through pain with other stories shared by contributors such as Deepak Chopra, Ela Gandhi, Joan Borysenko and Martin Sheen.

Each of the contributors has suffered their own pain, whether physical, spiritual or mental, and therefore are able to offer often sound and sometimes profound advise to mastering pain. This is a book of hope for anyone who has ever had difficulty overcoming the pain in their lives.

Jeni Mayer, Mind, Body, Spirit Magazine

The Beltane Papers Review:

Pain is a wake-up call to transform your life.

Author 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

Penguin Publishing Book Preview:



Transforming Hurt Into Healing
by Barbara Altemus


For those people held captive by pain whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual it is a debilitating, isolating, and ugly experience. Yet, it doesn't have to be. In her inspiring book, THE GIFT OF PAIN: Transforming Hurt Into Healing (Perigee Trade Paperback; September 2, 2003; $14.95), Barbara Altemus weaves her own narrative with the similar experiences of 35 other inspirational people‹world-renowned visionaries, healers, artists and peacemakers‹who have all endured some form of pain and emerged triumphant.


Drawing on themes of failure, loss, addiction, lack of community, and loss of homeland, each contributor reveals intensely personal moments of darkness as well as how those moments ultimately led to spiritual growth. THE GIFT OF PAIN takes readers on a journey through the many kinds of crises and gives insight into triumphing over some of life's most profound challenges. Components that constitute pain and healing, include:


Rebuilding the "Self" after childhood family trauma


Redefining "success" and "failure"


Recovery from addiction


Remembering who we are after separation and divorce


Restoring harmony between the mind and body


Rediscovering our creative selves


Renewal after the loss of a loved one


Reconnection after losing our homeland


Re-creating community


Many of the people interviewed in this book reveal the most intimate details of their lives, offering guidance and hope for people coping with pain. For example, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum discusses her trauma in being exiled from Guatemala, and Dr. Larry Dossey shares his suffering from severe migrane headaches which caused him partial blindness, nausea, and vomiting, and which nearly forced him to leave medical school.


THE GIFT OF PAIN is a deeply moving resource that offers support and solutions to lead readers out of suffering into a more productive, creative, and joyful life.


Transforming Hurt Into Healing
by Barbara Altemus
Perigee Trade Paperback
September 2, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-52778-8


Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children's trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Berkley Books, Dutton, Frederick Warne, G.P. Putnam's Sons, Grosset & Dunlap, New American Library, Penguin, Philomel, Riverhead Books and Viking, among others. The Penguin Group is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.