The volume is divided into three parts. The first part introduces her from childhood to her early college experience (1948-1968). We discover that while she felt a part of her family as she grew up, she simultaneously developed the sense (and the clarity) of an outsider. Some of this came about because her mother believed that any “reality” could be claimed as real. Turkle therefore had to decipher how her mother was interpreting reality because her mother’s “facts” didn’t always conform with the world Turkle experienced.
By contrast, her biological father’s love of science made it easy for him to lose touch with the human needs of his family. Then, once her parents divorced, her mother’s second marriage created identity problems because her mother wanted Turkle to use her second husband’s last name even before she was legally adopted. The upshot of this was that Turkle grew up with two deep convictions: On the one hand, she felt something was wrong with her because of her name. In addition, she understood that four loving adults— her grandparents, her mother, and her Aunt Mildred— had made her the center of their lives. We also learn she was an exceptional student and intent on going to Radcliffe.
“I was focused on finally leaving home. But I had tried to take what I most admired: my aunt’s intelligence and integrity; my grandmother’s empathy and resourcefulness; my grandfather’s tenacity. As for my mother, I wanted her capacity for joy in small things, the energy she brought to every moment.” (p. 77)
Continue reading “The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir by Sherry Turkle (Reviewed by Amy Ione)”