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The Empathy Exams: Essays [Anglais] [Broché]

Leslie Jamison

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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  43 commentaires
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Thoughtful reflections 9 avril 2014
Par Ken Stewart - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Very thoughtful reflections on the various aspects of empathy - on the self and the other in a recursive dialogue of compassion. I shall use quotes from it for my graduate students in marriage and family therapy. Empathy is a complex thing ... it is not easy, it is very difficult and bears a great cost to attempt to step into the pain of others. It is quite necessary for our personal and professional and spiritual development.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Few people will ever risk so much to tell us something so important about ourselves. 13 juin 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
It is all too common for even the most honest of writers to slip in to their work a certain amount of self-praise and narcissism veiled only as skillfully as they are able to write, and their readers are willing to overlook (if not accept outright).

This is not that.
It should never be mistaken for that.

Separating oneself from the mistakes, the suffering, the lesser-nesses of others-- to write about human tragedies from a safe distance-- is to coddle oneself and one's readers with security that is is unkind and insulting to everyone involved.
Leslie Jamison does the opposite of this. This is what courage looks like. It is tragic when it is so rare that we're suspicious of it, and don't recognize it when we see it.

She exposes herself-- so nakedly, so bravely--and at such personal cost. She shares with us--as she has shared with her subjects-- that which is endlessly painful and personally precious, and unfailingly honest. That's the point. Make no mistake: this is hard.

Who among us has dared to expose his or her most secret self? How often do we make naked the parts of ourselves we so painstakingly hide? Naturally, we conceal the raw places that do not/ will not heal. We hide what we fear is ugly-- or what we know is hideous. Who doesn't understand the shame of wishing to either heal or die (sometimes one doesn't care) without the sharp scrutiny and judgment of others?

Jamison was not *unafraid* to be naked in all the most terrifying ways--but make no mistake: she was fearless. She did it anyway, and only because it was necessary. She did it not because it was gratifying to expose herself-- but because it is among the hardest things one can do. Readers can *feel* that. That's the idea. Hers was a conscious choice to violently destroy the remove that insulates us from feeling about others as we do AS others-- rather than as we feel for ourselves.

This is no easy task-- and she has accepted great costs to herself to do so. Jamison gives us insight into everything we have no right to know about her. Can you really conceive of doing that yourself?

What we are seeing here is very unusual, and very important. Leslie Jamison evinces truly exceptional generosity of spirit-- the willingness to share the experience of wounds we all have (however much we choose to feel or share them). She invites us to experience empathy--and to witness our limitations.

This is so uncommon-- so unusual-- so rare-- that it is almost impossible NOT to mistake it for something else.

We only see what we already know (Goethe?). Typically people have shared their most private pain for altogether different reasons: as confession-for-manipulation, as excuse, as salacious self-promotion. We have too little experience with what "The Empathy Exams" offers. Jamison's is a very important and rare kind of honesty.

Leslie Jamison's subject, her approach, her goal-- her very style-- is the exception to the rule. What she is sharing with us is bound to make us uncomfortable-- and that is precisely the point. It is a courageous invitation to empathize-- and very much an experiment for everyone concerned.

It is dangerous and threatening to allow ourselves to feel for another person as we would feel for ourselves. Our empathy is designed with limitations. If all these pains were our own-- if we had felt them as acutely as by the author and her subjects-- and for the author and her subjects-- we might be destroyed. As self-protection, of sorts, we cannot feel that fully. But we need not find ourselves at the opposite extreme.

If no one believed that the worm living in your ankle was real-- if you barely believed it yourself (Good god! What a ridiculous idea! You must be crazy!)-- and then that worm prairie-dogged, and peered-out from your own flesh... How would that *feel*? Can you even imagine it?

This is among the many complex challenges of empathy: to feel for someone else as if we are part of the same, seamless soul. Because we are. Nothing about that is uncomplicated or easy.

The author is not exposing or analyzing herself because she is luxuriating in some form of indulgent narcissism. No. Emphatically: NO. We don't recognize the opposite of extreme narcissism when we see it-- perhaps, because it is just too rare. This is something special, here. We might not see the likes of it ever again.

Leslie Jamison has taken great pains to invite us (in spite of valid fears, serious personal risk, and how much it dearly hurts her) to apprehend empathy and where our limitations lie. We should pay attention. Few people will ever risk so much to tell us something so important about ourselves.
37 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 "Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick." 10 avril 2014
Par Amelia Gremelspacher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This quote by Susan Sontag serves as a central tenet of this book of essays. Jamison's intent is to explore the ways that empathy allows each of us to understand the pain of the other as a part of your own. In accepting that merging of her boundaries, she learns the underlying unity of pain. "No trauma has discrete edges" within the person. But also trauma cannot occur in isolation.

I respect the underlying premise of these essays, and I think the goal is reached in pockets of Jamison's prose. However her line of thought is often distorted or too broadly amorphous. The language is not easy to read in a sitting. Ease of transition is not a necessary element for me in judging writing, however she can be just too confusing. I understand the trope she is painting as the observed sufferers are seen as part of the observer, but it is often done in too abrupt a transition. Although her intent is clearly not to offer her own pain as primary or unique, it appears often enough to be tiring and ultimately overdone.

The topics of the essays are in fact quite fascinating in scope. She explores such diverse topics as those people who act as patients to train medical students to sufferers of the rare and controversial Morgollons disease in which people find crystals and threads emerging from within them. The chopping of the chapters with her philosophical musings tend to lead the mind off the frame of the topic rather than more deeply in exploration. All in all it felt as if she just couldn't get out of her own way which is a shame because this book held a lot of promise..
39 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Astonishingly good 3 avril 2014
Par L. E. Holt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
"The Empathy Exams" is, quite simply, the best book I've read in ages. Jamison is an original thinker and an extraordinary stylist. Her essays move in surprising directions--both in terms of form and subject matter--and offer solace without easy answers. "The Empathy Exams" joins "The White Album" by Joan Didion and "Orphans" by Charles D'Ambrosio on my list of favorite essay collections. Jamison is sure to win a lot of awards for this book and I'll be cheering when she does.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Heavy hitter with a soft touch 23 avril 2014
Par speedreader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Only a few essays in, but it's hard not to adore the author's compact, powerful prose. She has a good heart, a strong mind, and a lot to say. The collection feels a touch scattered so far, but even when discussing other writers or offering a standard Gonzo-type travel piece, Jamison startles us with her intimate confessions and observations. Nice to know there's a new heavy-hitter (with a soft touch) in town!
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