The Empathy Exams Essays Author:Leslie Jamison From personal loss to phantom diseases, a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize — 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:... more » 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.« less
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One of my favorite books in recent memory. I saw so much of myself in these essays I felt as though Jamison had carved open a window into my chest that she kept glancing into as she wrote. I had read the title essay last year before starting the collection and was so happy to find that I loved the rest of the stories in the book just as much. The weakest for me was probably In Defense of Saccharin(e), just because it devolved a bit too much into the abstractions of language and was a little lacking in the deeply personal touch the other essays have, but "weakest" is a relative term here. I'm not a writer so I feel like any review I leave on this won't cover my respect for and connection with this book. Read it.