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Fire of the Five Hearts: A Memoir of Treating Incest
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Fire of the Five Hearts: A Memoir of Treating Incest

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  40 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
This book is about the influence of twenty years of work in the field of incest on a therapist's professional and personal life. It is comprised of individual cases, and touches upon topics including spirituality, sex between siblings, counter-transference, and incest teams. The author shares, in unadulterated prose, her experience as an incest therapist. This important, c ...more
Paperback, 187 pages
Published August 22nd 2002 by Brunner-Routledge (first published 2002)
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Nov 27, 2011 Alicia rated it liked it
Disturbing and enlightening, Holly Smith details her work with incested youth during her career as a caseworker. Deeply upsetting with some stories that wrench your gut as well as stories that make you feel for all caseworkers as Holly deals with thoughts that the world punishes her for her work (her miscarriage was a result of all of the children she "tore" away from their mothers) or that another caseworker's cancer was caused by years of the tortured work of dealing with victims of incest.

Kayla Perry
Feb 28, 2014 Kayla Perry rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I have mixed feelings about this book. The cases in it are brutal to read but I had that thought going in. What I find maybe a little distracting is Holly herself who alternates between seeming really privileged (she mentions her row of rubies and diamonds a lot, whether in contrast to the poorness of others or what, I don't know) and her disbelief that she could be suffering from clinical anything was kind of odd to me. I understand wanting to do homeopathic remedies (I personally don't, but I ...more
Annie Feng
Jul 04, 2014 Annie Feng rated it really liked it
I've always said that a memoir is a therapist's therapy, and this is a stellar example of that. She exposed her heart and soul, narrating the past 20 years filled with daily horrors and acquaintances with unspeakably dark corners of humanity. It's a wonderful book, but very ruminating and less impactful. I guess rumination and reflection is what the author needs.

I've also firmly held the belief that jobs are like relationships - there isn't the "best" one for everybody, but you have to love the
Anurag Sinha
May 05, 2012 Anurag Sinha rated it really liked it
truly highlight the sufferings and offer remedies that though not very easy to follow surely will bring positive results.
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“Shamed and enraged, I sit by the side of the road and cry.
Eclipsed by a sense of disgrace, my emotions feel momentarily stifled and disconnected. Instead of anger, I feel dishonored and exposed. I cannot even formulate my thoughts, much less speak them. My integrity and humility have been violated. I have only my own indignation to spur me on.”
“I would like to turn in my skin and change it for a new epidermis. It feels as if I will never be able to rinse the sadness from my soul. All the while I am cognizant of the fact that I am trying to purge myself of my feelings. I start with my shell.
I am in the water at least an hour. I immerse my head. My long, thick mane is so heavy, but I feel the lightness of my hair as it floats. I can hear my heart beating in my ears. I wonder what would happen if I died in this water. I drain the bathtub and refill it. I scrub my skin until it stings. I still don't feel clean. I close my eyes.
I switch to lying on my back. I gaze at the heavens through the skylight on the ceiling above the tub. I am thinking about Isabella. I am struck by the feeling of uncleanness that I have been immersed in that day. I would imagine that this child feels unclean always, in body and in mind. I am hoping that the sheets in her foster home are snow white and fragrant. I am hoping that she felt safe. I am worried that she is so deeply alone and frightened. I know somewhere deep inside of me that the decisions and choices I made today were sound. I am praying, with eyes glued to the stars, that I will not awaken in the night with my heart beating out of my chest; that I will not be haunted by Francis's diseased body; that I will not perseverate on ever nuance of my day - the smells, the cockroaches, the piercing torment of Isabella's unseeing eye, her father's sore-ridden penis penetrating her tiny body. Yet in many ways this is an experience I hope never to forget. The pearls. I must not forget the pearls that I have promised her.”
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