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Falling into the Fire

A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis

Christine 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’.

  • Publication date: February 6, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780743660
  • RRP: £11.99
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication date: February 6, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780743677
  • RRP: £5.994.99
  • Pages: 256


‘Lucid, fluent [and] absorbing… nestles into a burgeoning genre of mental health books focusing on individual patient experiences rather than self-help prescriptions’ 

Sunday Business Post


Press Association

‘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.'

Daily Mail

'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.' 

Sunday Telegraph

‘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.' 

Washington Post

'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.'

Andrea Gillies, author of Keeper and The White Lie

'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.'

New York Times

'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.'

Daily Beast

'Her poetic insights into how tragedies may be understood stir empathy, as Montross delves into the details of the history of her patients… This beautifully written book doesn’t offer answers but rather encourages compassion.'

Library Journal

Christine Montross

Christine Montross is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour at Brown University and a practising inpatient psychiatrist with an MFA in poetry. Her writing has appeared in literary journals and women’s magazines as well as the New York Times. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Author page

More books by Christine Montross

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