The Empathy Exams Essays Leslie Jamison

Jamison's collection covers a wide range of topics, many of which are compellingly rooted in the medical world (the book's first essay, also entitled "The Empathy Exams" fascinatingly details Jamison's work as a medical actor, tasked with imitating a slew of ailments that budding doctors are meant to diagnose), all of which find their roots in the concept of empathy.Jamison effectively examines both fraught and kind of fun issues, from false murder accusations to extreme endurance challenges to the tragedy of various heroines throughout literature, all of which tie neatly back to the idea of empathy.Daum does something similar in her recent collection, sharing all sorts of stories that make her sound occasionally crazy, often rude, and mostly very human.

If Jamison is ever so slightly upstaged by these writers in “Lost Boys,” she proves herself their equal elsewhere.After attending a conference on the mysterious disease, Jamison soon finds herself exhibiting the same skin-crawling symptoms previously noted by her subjects.Thus, she begins understanding the pain of others by understanding her own, a journey that eventually leads her to the essay’s resonant question: “Is it wrong to call it empathy when you trust the fact of suffering, but not the source?One of the best things about Jamison's book is that she never tries to sugarcoat her experiences, and she's clearly averse to telling the reader what they want to hear.She never tries to be likable, and the result is a disarmingly honest collection penned by someone who is likable. In the author's essay collection The Empathy Exams , Jamison instead attempts to unmask what empathy really is, how it manifests itself, and how we can feel it.She doesn't need your empathy, but she'd sure love to see it for further examination and discussion.” Indeed, Jamison’s essays document suffering in many forms—murders, muggings, incarcerations and adventure races—but her through line remains constant: a clear-eyed, eloquent examination of what it means to be both human and humane.Perhaps Jamison’s greatest strength is her willingness to immerse herself into her work, even at the risk of jeopardizing her objectivity.Daum does it, redefining the idea of an author stripping themselves bare in the process.Culture and film critic Orange uses her own essay collection to examine the way the world reacts to — and is influenced by — a never-ending stream of new images.

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