This City Is Killing Me
Jonathan Foiles

Book cover image

Narrated By: Kevin Kenerly

Duration: 3 hours and 13 minutes

What to expect

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 side and west side of Chicago, he realized that individual therapy could not take into account the importance of unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing, and other policy decisions that impact the well-being of both individuals and communities.

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 brings policy and psychology together. Through case studies, Foiles opens up his therapy door to allow us to overhear the stories of individual poor Chicagoans. As we listen, Foiles teaches us how he makes 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.


Urban communities, Psychology

Listen to a sample

“Looks at the many ways in which urban poverty, crime, violence, and other socio-economic factors can destroy a life…[and] offers five such case studies…The author closes with the exhortation that what is needed is ‘a modern-day Poor People’s Movement to aid those who by circumstance of their birth are at a higher likelihood of experiencing suffering in all its forms.’ An urgent call for reform worthy of serious consideration.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Narrator Kevin Kenerly’s voice packs a lot of punch. His narration describing the way one of the author’s clients, a man who has lost a son to gun violence, takes on a defensive physical posture is gentle and powerful at the same time…Kenerly’s authoritative voice is easy to listen to.”


“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.”