A moving memoir and an extraordinary love story that shows how an expert physician became a family caregiver and learned why care is so central to all our lives and yet is at risk in today's world.
When Dr. Arthur Kleinman, an eminent Harvard psychiatrist and social anthropologist, began caring for his wife, Joan, after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, he found just how far the act of caregiving extended beyond the boundaries of medicine. In The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor, Kleinman delivers a deeply humane and inspiring story of his life in medicine and his marriage to Joan, and he describes the practical, emotional and moral aspects of caretaking. He also writes about the problems our society faces as medical technology advances and the cost of health care soars but caring for patients no longer seems important.
Caregiving is long, hard, unglamorous work--at moments joyous, more often tedious, sometimes agonizing, but it is always rich in meaning. In the face of our current political indifference and the challenge to the health care system, he emphasizes how we must ask uncomfortable questions of ourselves, and of our doctors. To give care, to be "present" for someone who needs us, and to feel and show kindness are deep emotional and moral experiences, enactments of our core values. The practice of caregiving teaches us what is most important in life, and reveals the very heart of what it is to be human.
About the Author
Arthur Kleinman, MD, is one of the most renowned and influential scholars and writers on psychiatry, anthropology, global health, and cultural issues in medicine. Educated at Stanford University and Stanford Medical School, he has taught at Harvard for over forty years. He is currently professor of psychiatry and of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School and Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Having spent decades doing field research in China and Taiwan, he is also a leading expert on East Asia, and was the Victor and William Fung Director of Harvard's Asia Center from 2008 to 2016. He is also the author of The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition, now widely taught in medical schools. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
"This is the story that may offer instruction and comfort to the 40 million family caregivers in the United States, and inspiration to clinicians struggling to go beyond diagnosis and treatment—to provide care." —The Washington Post
"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... Kleinman’s accessible discussion of patient care should appeal to a broad range of readers." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[Kleinman] reminds us of the moral responsibility to provide care and describes care as the 'human glue' which binds together families and communities... Much more than a sad story about suffering, loss, and an inevitably downhill disease, Kleinman's graceful narrative provides the sort of tonic that society sorely needs." —Booklist (starred review)
"The Soul of Care is important. Its significance goes beyond medicine." —New York Journal of Books
“Deeply affecting... The Soul of Care is a testament to the human capacity to draw sustenance from the memories of love, even as those memories are disappearingin the person loved. It is an important book.” —Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind
“The Soul of Care will leave you shaken but instructed, with an ethical imperativeand hopeful lessons regarding howbest to cultivate one’s humanity overthe course of a lifetime.” —Paul Farmer, MD
“Heartfelt, beautifully written, incredibly moving, and so instructive . . . This story will stay with me.” —Abraham Verghese
“An astute, affecting memoir, candid and prescriptive in equal measure.” —Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
“One of the most moving books I’ve ever read. Unforgettable . . . Arthur Kleinman reminds us of what truly matters in work, life, and death.” —Howard Gardner, author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed
“A poetic, moving, generous, and courageous account. You cannot possibly leave these pages unchanged in your understandingof what real caring means.” —Don Berwick, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
“At once a manifesto for decent health care and a brave exposing of an inner life, The Soul of Care gives language for what we all crave—effective, generous health care that nourishes those who give and those who receive until they recognize their oneness.” —Rita Charon, Columbia Narrative Medicine
“Beautiful and deeply moving. A truly extraordinary work that will change how we think about our lives and the society we live in.” —Michael Puett, author of The Path and Professor of Chinese History and Anthropology at Harvard University
“A rich account of care as presence, immediacy and attention that should matter to our medical system. But above all it is a love story—of great pain, but also of joy. It is about what really matters in our lives.” —T.M. Luhrmann, author of Of Two Minds: An Anthropologist Looks at American Psychiatry
"A personal and professional memoir like no other, how the founder of the field of medical anthropology learned that caring meant listening, and how at the peak of his career, when personal tragedy struck, Kleinman learned the deepest meanings of care." —Ellen Winner, Professor of Psychology, Boston College, author of How Art Works
“Arthur Kleinman’s very human story is an inspiration for all of us.” —Lee Goldman, Dean of Columbia University School of Medicine
“What was at stake for Arthur in his caring for Joan was nothing short of his humanity. Read this book and prepare to be both humbled and inspired.” —Jim Yong Kim, Former President of the World Bank
“One of our nation’s most humane doctors and profound thinkers has insightful, moving, and novel things to say about our capacity to give and get care. Powerful, intimate, poignant, and helpful.” —Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, and author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society
“A love story for the ages, a moral treatise, and a devastating critique of the absence of care in modern institutions and relationships.” —Tahmima Anam, author of The Bones of Grace