The Empathy Exams: Essays
A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Essay Collection of Spring 2014
Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison's visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another's pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain - real and imagined, her own and others - Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory - from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration - in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.