Kalliel (kalliel) wrote,

Rec: "The Empathy Exams" by Leslie Jamison

I just linked this on hoodie_time, but I liked it so much I figured I'd also recommend it outside of H/C-land:

It's an article written by a woman who's a medical actor (has a script, pretends symptoms, grades med students on the quality of their care), and in her actual life is dealing with the interpersonal/emotional complications of abortion, but the big ideas driving it resonate with me so much as far as hurt/comfort as a genre goes, and erp, Sam and Dean. (I know I Winchester-goggled it...)

The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison, is about empathy, and the role of empathy when it comes to illness, injury, and trauma--as well as the consequences of one's failure to empathize, or even to empathize inadequately. It's also about rotten spaces you fall into as someone who's hurting, where your frustrations and empathies fail, and how that impacts those around you (like, for instance when you're in pain, "the kind of pain that comes without a perpetrator," and you cast your loved ones as either villains or saviors, even if they can't possibly be either).

It's a really nuanced, complicated articulation of what empathy means and how it does and does not look--powerful read, and definitely something you'd be interested in as someone who's involved in H/C as a genre, whatever your role. OR INVOLVED IN SPN IN GENERAL, LOL, BECAUSE SHOW PLAYS HARDBALL. XD

In this sense, empathy isn’t measured just by checklist item 31—“Voiced empathy for my situation/problem”—but by every item that gauges how thoroughly my experience has been imagined. Empathy isn’t just remembering to say That must really be hard, it’s figuring out how to bring difficulty into the light so it can be seen at all. Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see […]

Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges. Trauma bleeds. Out of wounds and across boundaries. Sadness becomes a seizure.

Think about it in terms of Dean. Think about it in terms of Sam. Think about it in terms of Sam and Dean and Dean and Sam. And with the other half of your brain, think about it in terms of yourself, because it will make you a better person. XD

I think what Jamison works through for herself in this article is part of a conversation Sam and Dean do not yet know how to have. (And neither does fandom.)
Tags: fandom recs, fandom: spn, i can't watch tv like a normal person, mistaking reality for spn again, these things matter, writing

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