by David A. Karp
Oxford University Press, 2001
Review by Courtney Young on Jan 10th 2002
about mental illness in such a way that satisfies those who deal with it on a
regular basis is a rather difficult task.
It is hard to know where to draw the line when writing about a problem
that some see as a behavioral disorder related to how someone was raised, and
others see clearly as a disease. In
either case caring for an ill family member can be tremendously difficult on
the caregivers, and raises questions such as, what do we owe each other and how
do we know when or where to draw the line when caring for family members?. Questions such as these are raised in Karps
book, but are never resolved.
conversations with caregivers he attempts to show how, responsibility, duty,
and love mix in different combinations to sustain family ties (p.16). He also shows how these notions differ
between men and women. Although the
book is well researched, written, and addresses many important topics, it seems
lacking. If you looking to find better
ways to deal with sick family members, or the health care system, you will have
to look elsewhere. Admittedly, all
cases of mental illness are unique, and perhaps it is impossible to offer
advice on how to care for sick individuals.
However, it seems with a chapter entitled Surviving the system there
would be some useful information rather than the continual criticism. Im not talking about something radical, but
perhaps since everyone seems to be in agreement that the system needs to
change, he could have included ways the public could address health care
officials personally, pressuring some kind of change. The current policies towards those afflicted with mental illness
reflects societys view of these people and their place in a capitalist
society. Karp provides an interesting
analysis of this notion.
this book is about people caring for those who suffer from manic depression,
schizophrenia, clinical depression
etc, but we never hear the patients
themselves. The book gives the
impression that they dont care if they are hurting the ones caring for them,
and I think including their voice would have lent a more complete analysis. Throughout this book we see how caregivers
themselves can become depressed, or how they struggle with difficult decisions
to have their loved ones committed. One
sick person can affect an entire household, and we hear from mothers,
daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives. It is an interesting approach, and by giving the caregivers
perspective we see mental illness itself in a different way.
who are not familiar with mental illness and its severity The Burden of
Sympathy is worth reading. However,
if you are a caregiver looking for help while you contemplate what your
obligations are, or where your responsibilities lie; this book offers no
answers or even advice on the matter.
This book does give the caregiver comfort in knowing that he/she is not
the only one facing these ethical dilemmas, and raises important philosophical
questions worth discussing.
2002 Courtney F. Young
Courtney Young recently graduated from Dowling College, Long
Island, NY majoring in Fine Arts and minoring in Philosophy. While planning her next step, she maintains
her mental health by surfing.
of David Karps Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the
Meanings of Illness