Earbuddies: Doctors, Patients, Privilege

Audiobooks and podcasts are key to my health. Hang on, I’ll explain. Years ago, as a mom of 2 toddlers, I began distance running—I needed to be radically unavailable, and out of my house, for as long as possible. I also needed my brain to work as I gasped through the hours, so even now, I fuel up with true stories about other people.

In honor of health and the complex stories therein, two recommendations for your ears— wherever your body may follow.

AUDIOBOOK: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb

Narrated by Brittany Pressley. Genre: Memoir. 14 h, 21 min.

Gottlieb once wrote TV shows about hospitals, but her desire for more authentic storytelling led to a career as a therapist. When her story opens, she’s reeling from a break-up that undermines her professionalism, navigating wardrobe malfunctions while seeking recommendations for her own therapist without her colleagues’ (or clients’) knowledge. The memoir intertwines Gottlieb’s self-awareness as a patient with stories of her clients: an abrasive TV producer, a dying young bride, and a self-loathing septuagenarian wavering between suicide and new love. While her clients’ stories are endearing and woeful, it’s Gottlieb’s generous voice that pulls together her work and her life, revealing lessons both about her profession and about us: flawed humans with stories worth telling, hearing, and revising.

PODCAST: The Shrink Next Door

Wondery/Bloomberg. Format: Serialized journalism. 6 episodes, 45 min each.

If Dr. Gottlieb is a patient’s dream, then Dr. Isaac Herschkopf is a nightmare. Narrated by writer Joe Nocera, this true story chronicles a psychiatrist’s exploitation of a patient whose compliance veers seemingly, and infuriatingly, into complicity. It’s not hard to imagine a greedy doctor’s motives, so Nocera probes a deeper mystery: What makes a patient reject his family, sign over his business, and give up his home to a doctor who offers nothing, not even his expertise, in return

By Professor Rebecca Meacham

Professor Rebecca Meacham directs the Writing and Applied Arts program and is Co-Chair of English. Her prose has been set to music, translated into Polish, and carved into woodblocks and letter-pressed by steamroller. She also helps organize Green Bay’s annual UntitledTown Book and Author Festival, where she once shared crème brûlée with Margaret Atwood and a puppet.

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