The Empathy Diaries

Penguin Pr. Mar. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780525560098. $28. BIOG
Turkle (social studies of science and technology, MIT; Reclaiming Conversation) draws connections between lessons learned in her personal life and her professional research interests. As a young girl in Brooklyn, her mother fastidiously cultivated a public image for their family, and Turkle recognized early on the association between that facade and self-identity. Turkle recounts her many experiences feeling like an outsider in her young life and her struggles to fit in, leading her to the field of psychoanalysis. As technology became more prevalent, Turkle began to explore how technology changes the way people think, especially regarding personal identity and empathy with others. She credits her “outsider’s clarity,” developed during her childhood, with her subsequent research topics. Descriptions of the beginning of her career and her involvement with psychoanalysis are a bit complex, and readers without prior knowledge in these areas may feel a little lost. However, Turkle’s recounting of her childhood is richly detailed, and anyone who has felt the struggle to fit in will identify with her story. Family photographs throughout add a personal touch.
VERDICT This genre-bending memoir is recommended for readers interested in Turkle’s work or in the interplay between technology and self.
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