Some call psychoanalysis the "talking cure," but according to Arthur Ciarmicoli and Katherine Ketcham, it's really about listening. In "The Power of Empathy," Ciarmicoli, a therapist, draws on his own life, his relationship with his father, his brother's tragic suicide and his experiences as a psychologist to illustrate how transformative "giving up a self-centered view of the world in order to participate fully in another's experience" can be.

Ciarmicoli and Ketcham endow empathy with an almost religious power, comparing it to William James's conception of faith, "that inner sense of calm certainty that generates belief in ourselves and others." They say less, however, about religion itself; apparently people can make it alone as long as they've got a good shrink. Occasionally the book verges on the voyeuristic (if you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall of a therapist's office, this is the book for you). But ultimately "The Power of Empathy" is a moving testimony to the importance of human communication, and a sense of the difficulties involved in attaining it.

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