The Empathy Exams Essays Author:Leslie Jamison From personal loss to phantom diseases, The Empathy Exams is a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize — 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, L... more »eslie 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.« 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.