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Date & Time

Monday, August 19, 2019
6:00 PM


Seminary Co-op Bookstore


Free and open to the public


Seminary Co-op Bookstore
(773) 752-4381


"We rediscover the trauma of everyday life in urban America as Jonathan Foiles documents the course of his practice as a psychotherapist in the most hard-pressed surrounds of Chicago. He explores the conditions that perpetuate the experience of oppression, demoralization, and suffering, challenging us to rethink what it means to speak of help and care. He brings a moral energy and a muscular pragmatism to his conceptions of therapeutic action and hope."—William Borden, PhD, Lecturer, School of Social Service Administration and Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago

Jonathan Foiles discusses "This City Is Killing Me: Community Trauma and Toxic Stress in Urban America." He will be joined in conversation by Shannon Heffernan. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

About the book: When Jonathan Foiles was a graduate student in social work, he had to choose between a mental health or policy track. But once he began working, he found it impossible to tell the two apart. While helping poor patients from the South and West sides of Chicago, he realized individual therapy could not take into account the importance unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing and other policy decisions that impact both individual and community well-being. It is easy to be depressed if you live in a neighborhood that has few supportive resources available, or is marred by gun violence. We are able to diagnose people with depression, but how does one heal a neighborhood?

"This City Is Killing Me: Community Trauma and Toxic Stress in Urban America," brings policy and psychology together. Through a remarkable set of case studies, Foiles opens up his therapy door to allow us to overhear the stories of Jacqueline, Frida, Robert, Luis, Anthony, and other poor Chicagoans. As we listen, Foiles teaches us how he diagnoses, explains how therapists before him would analyze these patients, and, through statistics and the example of Chicago, teaches us how policy decisions have contributed to these individuals’ suffering. The result is a remarkable, unique work with an urgent political call to action at its core.

About the author: Jonathan Foiles is a writer and mental health professional based in Chicago. He writes a blog for "Psychology Today" and has previously written for "Slate." He can be reached at