Author(s): 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'.
'A piercing portrait of psychiatry... Montross seamlessly weaves together history, reportage and memoir while reflecting on the difficult questions that arise as she digs into psychiatry's past.' Los Angeles Times '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 'Montross explores the practical, emotional, and philosophical challenges of working with patients whose illnesses of the mind are often intractable and deeply disturbing' The New Yorker '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 '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 'Montross exposes and explores the challenging, sometimes paradoxical role of psychiatric professionals - Her intriguing analysis is anchored by [a] humble and empathetic voice.' Publishers Weekly '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 '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.' Kirkus Reviews
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.