Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It


Purchase Root Shock 
Second Edition
Trade paper, 304 pages
Published by New Village Press


Psychiatrist Seeks to Understand and Relieve the Trauma of Urban Renewal 

Root Shock is public health psychiatrist Mindy Thompson Fullilove’s analysis of the devastating effects of urban renewal policies, a nationwide series of public development projects in the mid 20th century, that modernized inner city areas while clearing hundreds of tightly knit, culturally vibrant ethnic communities. Illustrating the social and psychological necessity of safe, stable, and beautiful places, Dr. Fullilove argues that the loss of these communities causes trauma—root shock—in the individuals and groups torn from their homes, neighborhoods, and social support systems. Centering around the destruction of three historically African American communities, Dr. Fullilove shows that this dismantling of lives produces a ripple effect that disturbs all urban dwellers, the black community at large, and ultimately the whole nation. 

Drawing from a wealth of personal stories, historical accounts, and detailed studies of three urban neighborhoods (Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Newark’s Central Ward, and Roanoke, Virginia), Dr. Fullilove creates a mosaic image of damaged communities past and present, leading to her synthesis of strategies and guiding principles for their future improvement. Her message is more timely than ever, as the United States grapples with uncovering hidden layers of racial inequities, and current policies of gentrification yield negative effects similar to those of urban renewal. 

This second edition features two new forewords: one by Carlos F. Peterson, a Pittsburgh artist deeply influenced by the destruction of the neighborhood where he grew up, and another by Dr. Mary Basset, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who has written on the adverse public health effects of discrimination against African Americans.



Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD is a research psychiatrist at New York State Psychiatric Institute and professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University. She is the author of five books.

Foreword contributor, Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, is a public health researcher and commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In February 2015, she wrote a perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding the adverse health effects of racial discrimination against African Americans. She holds a B.A. in history and science from Harvard University, an M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an M.P.H. from the University of Washington.

Foreword contributor, Carlos F. Peterson, is a distinguished artist and architectural draftsman and award-winning illustrator for the steel engineering industry of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mr. Peterson’s life and many of his evocative paintings, prints, sculpture, and photographs were deeply influenced by 1960's urban development that destroyed the vibrant African American, Hill District neighborhood he grew up in.