cover image Counting on Kindness: The Dilemmas of Dependency

Counting on Kindness: The Dilemmas of Dependency

Wendy Lustbader. Free Press, $17.95 (206pp) ISBN 978-0-02-919515-4

Seattle mental health counselor Lustbader here compells attention to and sympathy for those who must rely on caregivers for their needs. She notes, ``The longer an illness or incapacity lasts, the harder it becomes for us to maintain faith in our helper's good will,'' adding, ``most people resist dependence and struggle to maintain a secure sense of identity by asking for as little as they can.'' Although the author's observations, as well as those from such diverse sources as Proust biographer George Painter and Arthur Kleinman, author of The Illness Narrative , comprise much of the text, these references interrupt the real story, which is related by patients themselves. From incapacitated men and women we learn of the humiliations caused by the loss of autonomy, of the frustrations at not being able to manage on one's own. Accounts from widely different sorts of patients and those who begrudgingly or willingly see to their care provide graphic lessons in sensitivity. (Feb.)