The Soul of Care
At HKU Faculty of Medicine, the Medical Humanities curriculum stresses many different aspects of care. Many workshops are designed surrounding the topic. This newly published book is a moving memoir authored by Professor Arthur Kleinman, who is an eminent Harvard psychiatrist and social anthropologist. It’s 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 Prof. Kleinman, 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.