The Soul of Care

Arthur Kleinman is a name that comes up again and again when you search around our big college town of Boston / Cambridge for people asking the great human questions, about our lived experience — about our inner and outer lives, secret lives, soul lives, and also about our vulnerabilities, our pain, and endurance. Dr. Kleinman is an M.D. psychiatrist who’s played anthropologist, too, in Chinese medicine, but he saved his best work and big discovery for last. In his sixties and seventies, he says, he learned more than he’d ever known before about doctoring through 11 years of caring night and day for the wife he adored in the grip of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Arthur Kleinman. Credit: Torben Eskerod.

Arthur Kleinman is a doctors’ doctor who learned the hard way about his lifetime in medicine. He’s been learning mainly about the limits of his heroic profession, about the difference between care-giving (which could mean surgery, or writing a prescription) and care itself, which means staring into an anxious patient’s view of the abyss. The Soul of Care is Arthur Kleinman’s 40th book. Most of his books have soulful titles, but this one is different: it’s a memoir of more than a decade after his wife and professional partner Joan showed first hints of Alzheimer’s disease.

Banner image credit: Torben Eskerod.


Guest List
Dr. Arthur Kleinman
Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology at Harvard.

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