The Empathy Exams

“The Empathy Exams” is a remarkable collection of essays written by Leslie Jamison. Published in 2014, it offers a thought-provoking exploration of empathy and its complexities. Through her personal experiences and insightful observations, Jamison invites readers to reflect on the human capacity for empathy in a world filled with emotional challenges and contradictions.

The Stories Within

In “The Empathy Exams,” Jamison skillfully weaves together personal reflections and accounts of encounters with others to examine the intricacies of empathy. The book consists of several interconnected essays, each delving into different aspects of human empathy. With compelling narratives and introspective analysis, Jamison explores the boundaries of empathy, questioning its limits and potential.

Recognition and Awards

“The Empathy Exams” received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. It was selected as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism in 2014. Jamison’s skillful writing and unique perspective on empathy garnered praise from both literary critics and general readers.

Critical Acclaim

Leslie Jamison’s “The Empathy Exams” received numerous positive reviews from critics and readers alike. Many praised the book for its insightful exploration of empathy, describing it as thought-provoking and emotionally resonant. The essays are widely regarded as powerful and thoughtfully crafted, offering a fresh perspective on the complexities of human connection.

The Power of Empathy

Through the essays in “The Empathy Exams,” Jamison portrays empathy as a force that compels us to bridge the gap between ourselves and others. She delves into her experiences as a medical actor, where she had to simulate the symptoms of various illnesses to help train medical students, and explores the emotional toll it took on her. The book also delves into Jamison’s personal struggles with illness and addiction, allowing readers to empathize and connect with her on a profound level.

Key Characters

While “The Empathy Exams” isn’t a work of fiction with traditional characters, it introduces readers to various individuals who have impacted Jamison’s life and her exploration of empathy. These characters include the patients she encounters as a medical actor, her friends, and her own self as she grapples with illness and addiction. Through vivid descriptions and intimate storytelling, Jamison brings these characters to life, inviting readers to empathize with their struggles.

Exploring Different Formats

“The Empathy Exams” is available in multiple formats, catering to readers’ preferences for consuming literature. Whether readers prefer physical books, audiobooks, e-books, or podcasts, they can immerse themselves in Jamison’s compelling essays and reflect on the themes she explores.


As a groundbreaking work, “The Empathy Exams” offers readers a unique and introspective perspective on empathy and its complexities. Leslie Jamison’s powerful storytelling, coupled with her honest exploration of personal experiences, has earned the book much-deserved recognition and critical acclaim.

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