The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor

Arthur Kleinman. Viking, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-55932-0
Psychiatrist and medical anthropologist Kleinman sensitively weaves the story of his late wife Joan’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease with frank commentary on the decay of personalized patient care in this clear-eyed memoir. As a medical student in the 1960s, Kleinman was shocked by the lack of empathy patients received (“It was as if I could see care disappearing before my eyes”). Working alongside Joan in the 1970s, Kleinman studied Chinese medicine and caregiving across cultures, and furthered his work in the then-nascent field of medical anthropology. When Joan became ill with Alzheimer’s in her 50s, he became a caregiver himself and turned to his research for inspiration: “Our Chinese cultural socialization intensified our sense of the two of us as one unit equally responsible for each other.” He writes tenderly of Joan’s decline, during which time they experienced much of the same substandard treatment of patients that Kleinman had studied and criticized, which only intensified Kleinman’s commitment to holistic care; after Joan’s death in 2011, Kleinman continued his fight for a caregiving curriculum in medical schools. Kleinman’s accessible discussion of patient care should appeal to a broad range of readers. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 10/02/2019
Release date: 09/17/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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