Jungleland or Grassroots Recovery? The Lower Ninth Ward as a Symbol of Hope
Adrienne Rich: 1929-2012

Longreads Wednesday: Emotional Doctors, EJ Graff on Trayvon Martin,

Want to read something longer than a tweet but shorter than book? Here are today's recommendations from Beacon Press. (And of course you can always browse our Scribd page, where we post sizeable excerpts from our books. Check out our spring releases here.)

Danielle Ofri, in the New York Times, looks at how emotions can interfere with honest communications between doctor and patient:

By now, even the most hard-core, old-school doctors recognize that emotions are present in medicine at every level, but the consideration of them rarely makes it into medical school curriculums, let alone professional charters. Typically, feelings are lumped into the catch-all of stress or fatigue, with the unspoken assumption that with enough gumption these irritants can be corralled.

The emotional layers in medicine, however, are far more pervasive. Emotions have been described by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio as the “continuous musical line of our minds, the unstoppable humming ...” This basso continuo thrums along, modulating doctors’ actions and perceptions, while we make a steady stream of conscious medical decisions that have direct consequences for our patients. Emotions can overshadow clinical algorithms, quality control measures, even medical experience. We may never fully master them, but we must at least be conscious of them and of how they can sometimes dominate the symphony of our actions. (Read more)

In the American Prospect, E. J. Graff examines her own emotional response to the murder of Trayvon Martin:

Why, with someone dead, with the evidence of Zimmerman’s past vigilantism and domestic violence charges and arrests and anger management courses, with those horrifying 911 tapes, and all the rest, why is the man still walking around free? 

Look, Zimmerman may not be guilty of murder. He might indeed have shot his gun in self-defense. It’s horrifying that he’s being tried in the media. So let him be charged and tried in a court of law, with both sides’ evidence marshaled and presented for twelve people to reviewWhy isn’t that being done?

More personally, I’ve been puzzling over why I can’t get over Martin’s death. Two weeks after I first heard the story, I am still looking at pictures of that child’s face, ready to burst out crying. I see black kids walking up our street or shooting basketballs on the playground, and want to run over and protect them. (Don’t worry, I know how they’d react to the crazy white lady barreling at them—I do have some restraint.) My own little guy has been subjected to many more hugs and kisses than usual, which can make an eight-year-old very impatient. And despite deadlines, I’ve been taking afternoon breaks to build three-story Lego extravaganzas with him. (Read more)

On Guernica, Aimee Phan recounts her foreclosure story, and why she may not ever own a house again. 

After receiving numerous mailings touting the benefits of HAMP, we visited the local HUD agency armed with the required pile of paperwork: copies of our last three years of income tax returns, paystubs, bank statements and utility bills, cautiously optimistic at the possibility of financial relief. After looking at the condo’s devaluation and our monthly expenses, the HUD officer seemed confident that we could lower our principal balance, and negotiate a more reasonable monthly rate. We would no longer have to worry about our ticking time bomb adjustable mortgage rate.

Instead, Bank of America rejected our remodification request, since we were current on our payments. Due to our combined incomes, they believed we could technically continue to make our monthly payments—and even afford to pay more. Of course they didn’t consider our deflated home value or the fact that we had another dependent, and had to eat. (Read more)