Philip Larkin’s Myxomatosis and the Problem of Empathy


  • Michael D. Shulman none


Philip Larkin's well-known poem Myxomatosis records the poet's disturbing encounter with a rabbit dying of a disfiguring viral illness introduced into the wild as a measure of pest control. The poet's response to this experience reveals the complex nature of empathy, which has been described in the psychological literature as eliciting behavior far removed from the tenderness we associate with sympathy and the ministrations of medical professionals.

Author Biography

Michael D. Shulman, none

I have received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fordham University and a medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsyvania.  I am a nephrologist in private practice.


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How to Cite

Shulman, M. D. (2018). Philip Larkin’s Myxomatosis and the Problem of Empathy. Ars Medica, 13(2). Retrieved from