A heart, the source of empathy, or at least what we use as a visual for love, was an initial starting point. As a nod to the medical part of the essay, a graphic illustration of a heart is used.
Kimberly Glyder was responsible for designing the cover of Leslie Jamison‘s essay collection, The Empathy Exams. On Graywolf’s blog, she details the time and thought-intensive process of designing a bestseller (spiked letters, or no spiked letters?).