The Empathy Exams: Essays
Published April 1, 2014
256 pages (paperback)
My husband makes fun of me because I can’t see someone crying without crying myself. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances behind the tears may be (melodrama on reality television gets every time). Suffice it to say: I am an empathizer.
So, it should come as no surprise that I was intrigued by Leslie Jamison’s award-winning collection of essays, The Empathy Exams. The collection poses questions about empathy and how we empathize: “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?” Some of the essays encourage the reader to empathize with others (prisoners, sufferers of disease). Others beg the reader to empathize with the author herself.
Generally, the essays can be broken into three broad categories: Continue reading