‘Lucid, fluent [and] absorbing… nestles into a burgeoning genre of mental health books focusing on individual patient experiences rather than self-help prescriptions’
Falling into the Fire
A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in CrisisChristine Montross
A woman habitually commits self-injury, ingesting light bulbs, a box of nails, zippers and a steak knife. A new mother is admitted with incessant visions of harming her child. A recent graduate, dressed in a tunic and declaring that love emanates from everything around him, is brought to A&E by his alarmed girlfriend. These are among the patients new physician Christine Montross meets during rounds at her hospital’s locked inpatient ward – and who we meet as she struggles to understand the mysteries of the mind, most especially when the tools of modern medicine are failing us. Beautifully written and deeply felt, Falling into the Fire is an intimate portrait of psychiatry and a moving reminder, in the words of the New York Times, of ‘our fragile, shared humanity’.
‘Compelling… Falling into the Fire is a fine addition to a body of writing – including the work of Paul Broks, Kay Redfield Jamison and Oliver Sacks.’
'Christine Montross is the latest recruit to our distinguished line of literary psychologists… Montross goes into a great deal of interesting detail.'
'With humanity and clarity, psychiatrist and poet Christine Montross intersperses the harrowing stories of five of the patients she met and treated… her compassion shines through.'
'Fascinating… [Montross] is very good at exploring the ethical issues raised by her practice… that there are no certain answers to these questions only makes them more absorbing… Montross writes beautifully.'
‘This account by a practising psychiatrist is the kind of confession doctors aren’t supposed to make: that they don’t always know what to do, and they may spend their entire working lives learning on the job… revealing.'
'These stories are fascinating in the macabre way that psychiatric case studies can be, but Falling into the Fire is not a mere catalogue of human oddities… Her patients' neurons are certainly misfiring, but these individuals have just as certainly led beleaguered lives with fractured relationships… Powerful.'
'An absorbing glimpse into the darker rooms of the human mind. Christine Montross offers a personal guided tour through fascinating case histories and reveals how very much our minds are our selves, and not always operating in our own best interests.'
'A mind-boggling inventory of psychiatric pathologies… Dr Montross, an award-winning poet before attending medical school, is passionate about her work and her patients’ plight… The book emphasizes neither their madness nor our sanity in the face of mental disease, but our fragile and shared humanity.'
'Falling Into the Fire is as good an account of the labyrinth of mental health care as you’re likely to read. [Montross’s] work in critical care psychiatric settings is the source material, and she launches from discussions of clients into larger questions about the nature of psychiatry and of mental health. Montross writes beautifully about the deep-seated illnesses that challenge therapist and psychiatrists.'
'Montross writes of [her] encounters with a dramatic flair, ever empathetic but unsparing of occasional negative feelings, fears and frustrations... As an antidote to her daily coping with extreme behaviors, Montross writes serenely of a home life with her family. No triumphs of modern psychiatry on display here, but rather a sympathetic portrait of seriously ill patients that could guide future practitioners on the art of helping, if not always healing, the sick.'