The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope With Mental Illness by David A. KarpThe Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope With Mental Illness by David A. Karp

The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope With Mental Illness

byDavid A. Karp

Paperback | March 15, 2002

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In this vivid and thoughtful study, David Karp chronicles the experiences of the family members of the mentally ill, and how they draw "boundaries of sympathy" to avoid being engulfed by the day-to-day suffering of a loved one. Working from sixty extensive interviews, the author reveals striking similarities in the experiences of caregivers: the feelings of shame, fear, guilt and powerlessness in the face of a socially stigmatized illness; the frustration of navigating the complex network of bureaucracies that governthe mental health system; and most of all, the difficulty negotiating an "appropriate" level of involvement with the mentally ill loved one while maintaining enough distance for personal health. Throughout, Karp sensitively explores the overarching question of how people strike equilibrium betweenreason and emotion, between head and heart, when caring for a catastrophically ill person. The book concludes with a critical look at what it means to be a moral and caring person at the turn of the century in America, when powerful cultural messages spell out two contradictory imperatives: pursuepersonal fulfillment at any cost and care for the family at any cost. An insightful, deeply caring look at mental illness and at the larger picture of contemporary values, The Burden of Sympathy is required reading for caregivers of all kinds, and for anyone seeking broader understanding of human responsibility in the postmodern world.
David A. Karp is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. His book Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness (OUP, 1996) won the Charles Horton Cooley Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. He lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
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Title:The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope With Mental IllnessFormat:PaperbackDimensions:340 pages, 5.12 × 7.8 × 0.98 inPublished:March 15, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195152441

ISBN - 13:9780195152449

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Editorial Reviews

"David Karp is a great ethnographer of disrupted lives, offering profound truths in clear prose, combining empathy with analysis. Burden of Sympathy gives eloquent voice to care givers; I know no other book that tells their story with such respect. This brilliant study offers personalvalidation, a model study of suffering and moral decision making, and a profound challenge to policy makers."--Arthur W. Frank, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary and author of At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness and The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, andEthics