A journalist visits the only remaining clinic in the United States devoted to treating patients with Hansen’s disease, more commonly known as leprosy. Ninety-five percent of people are naturally immune to what is a now curable bacterial disease whose harm stems from the way it causes degeneration of the peripheral nerves, resulting in numbness and often preventing those affected from feeling pain. The main focus of treatment, she notices, is managing stigma and teaching patients to care for themselves. They learn attentiveness to their own bodies to avert “the dangers of insensibility”: to be mindful when cooking so as not to burn themselves, to tend to their wounds, and to check their bodies for even the most minor injury. For both patients and clinicians, the clinic is the site of lessons in empathy, an empathy born of the capacity to imagine pain that one does not experience oneself. Empathy emerges from “an act of imagination, of extending yourself beyond yourself,” thus “[c]omfort is dangerous” because it dulls these imaginative capacities. A capacity for experiencing pain, imagined or real, and thus for empathy lies at the core of what it means to be human, the journalist concludes. 1