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Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis
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Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,370 ratings  ·  129 reviews
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 Mo ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Penguin Press
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 ·  1,370 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Petra Xmas is coming goose is getting fat - me too
The problem with this book is that Dr. Montross couldn't make up her mind if she wanted to write a book about her psychotic patients, how they got that way and what might help them or her own interesting life as a lesbian where she and her partner have each had a child together.

It was a bit sensationalist reading about people who habitually munch up light bulbs, want to kill their babies and think love is all around (man). Montross, with her predilection for history, forensics, neurology and ph
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
We all live beneath a veil of invulnerability. For the most part, we act as if we and our loved ones will live forever. But then there are earthshaking moments in our lives - a diagnosis, an accident, some unforeseen catastrophe - when the veil is pulled back and we see with clarity that we are all in fact perched on a precipice.
Mental illness pierces the veil, and those who suffer from it dwell with their fragility in plain view. My role as a psychiatrist is not to try to repair the veil but t
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a hard book to say that you "liked". I can not say that I really "liked" it, but I found it to be an extremely interesting and informative view of the treatment of psychiatric disorders. IF you have never studied psychology, never taken a class in abnormal psychology, you might have a difficult time following parts of this book as it is written by a psychiatrist and uses the terminology of that field.

This isn't a book for everyone, but who is it for? Well, I would recommend it for anyone
Zach Gray
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*I received this book through a First Reads giveaway*

Falling Into the Fire is not an easy read. Dr. Christine Montross is a psychiatrist and writes openly about some of her clients who had particularly troubling problems. And this is why the book is, at times, difficult. To learn of and attempt to sympathize with these people who are battling remarkable despair is not easy to stomach. Of course that's nothing compared to the task of being responsible for diagnosis and treatment, which is nothing
A compassionately written account of a few cases the author encountered in her life, with a solid attempt at explaining the mental ilness in discussion using current scientific knowledge. I particularly enjoyed the fact that, for someone who suffered from mental ilness, when I encountered the chapter where my particular affliction was discussed, I didn't feel in any way like the tone was authoritative, but rather open-minded and focused on the best possible explanation. A good read for someone s ...more
Carol E.
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-books
Christine Montross is a psychiatrist. Each of five chapters centers on a particular type of patient. You get to read some of the patient's odd behaviors, how the medical staff relates to them, and sometimes a bit about their families as well. The author talks a lot about the disorders, how she goes about determining a diagnosis, how cloudy the diagnosis can be because it can resemble so many others, yet with quite different treatment needs. I'm interested, and I like the doctor and her kind appr ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I was one of the lucky winners of the First Reads giveaway for this book. I should also say that I am reading this book partway through my medical school education. Now, on to the review!

As I was reading through this book, I felt that the author struggled with interspersing the patient cases with personal anecdotes and experiences that complimented her patient narrative. In fact, often these personal anecdotes broke the flow of the narration, and did not flow as smoothly as her patient case desc
Mikey B.
This book is the reflections of a psychiatrist on her profession. She provides us with the details of encounters with her patients all of whom have reached a stage of being unable to cope with their lives. One, for instance, is obsessed constantly by his facial skin condition – he is looking in the mirror several hours a day and has spent thousands of dollars to attempt to alleviate this. Visually he is a normal looking person with no skin condition. A woman hears voices and feels that she may b ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Compelling Psychiatric Cases and the Ethics of Treatment

Christine Montross presents a series of cases from her psychiatric residency and early clinical practice that raise issues not only of treatment, but the physician's response to treating patients. Several of the patients we meet in this fascinating book are not very likable: the woman who swallows light bulbs and other dangerous objects to relieve stress, the young mother who is afraid she'll murder her baby son, and the woman whose seizure
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My library sends out a newsletter called Wowbrary every Wednesday listing the week's latest additions. The description of this book made it sound fascinating so I arranged to grab a copy. Sadly for me the book didn't live up to my expectations for it. The author, Christine Montross, writes about some of her more unusual psychiatric cases. They include a woman who will swallow literally anything left within reach when she gets distressed, a man who is so beaten down that he can remain asleep even ...more
Isabelle reads a book a day because she has no friends
4.5 stars rounded up—would have been a full five if the author had focused less on her own personal life, which I found mostly unnecessary at the end of every chapter, but I still couldn’t stop reading this book.
Wardah Beg
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychiatry
I should not make this review an essay on what I think about psychiatry, because I don’t know much. There’s no denying the fact that reading any book on this matter will swarm one’s mind with the most fundamental questions that can be put regarding this medical practice, for instance, and the most fundamental being, its existence as a full-fledged area of medicine. Much after I finished reading this, my mind lingered on one particular part of the book-- the question of Mad Pride. Dr Montross has ...more
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
The author couldn't decide whether she wanted to write a scholarly piece or a book about her feelings about her personal life and her patients. It was disappointing as both. The discussion of scholarly works on various psychiatric maladies was thin and distracting. The discussion of the author's feelings was neither revealing nor particularly insightful. The book would have been much better if she had discussed some of her own problems, why she was attracted to psychiatry and what she learned ab ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received this book as a give-away from Goodreads. It is a fascinating look into the minds of some disturbed patients, and the author's compassion and insight are phenomenal. ...more
John Krotzer
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this was a good book, easy to read and understand even with all the psychiatric phrases and diagnosis names. Some of the stories are really heartbreaking. I also commend the author for NOT making herself out to be the savior of the world ... she identified several mistakes she made and not once claimed to have instantly cured anyone, as some of these books do (often to great exaggeration).

What I didn't like was the supposed tie-ins with her family. It sounds like she has a wonderful, l
Amanda Nan Dillon
Interesting read of a psychiatrist explaining mental illnesses in layman terms. Crossed more into a memoir than I expected.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Beautifully written. The book just shows how much compassion is needed in dealings with others-- people who, like ourselves, live on the precipice of healthy, mentally-well life. We take it all for granted, but so many chemical, biological, and environmental factors go into being physically and mentally well, and hidden within all of us is the potential for psychosis, depression, pica, or somatoform disorders. I admire Montross infinitely and she shows that you can take a longer path to medical ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, reviews
I received a copy of Falling into the Fire by psychiatrist Christine Montross through a Goodread’s First Read give away.

I was touched and awed by this book. Ms. Montross shares her experiences as a psychiatrist at an in-patient hospital. Her experience in getting to know her patients, sometimes with detailed case notes, other times having to prize information from the patient, peeling away at their experiences, stories and symptoms to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan. Ms. Montross sh
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book was my first Firstreads book I received free from the Goodreads giveaway. I received an 'Advance Uncorrected Proofs' copy.

I really liked this book. The author is very knowledgeable in this work, as well she should be, being that it's her life's work. Though the subject matter was difficult to read, it was not because Montross wrote over the reader's head, but just from the sheer extreme disorders that she has treated in patients--from people who wanted a limb amputated for no other re
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I consumed this in just a few days, but there were times that it was a tough read due to the intensity of the problems that were being described. The author, a hospital psychiatrist, explores mental illness of different types (body dysmorphic disorder and self-mutilation, body integrity identity disorder, obsessive disorder, catatonic depression and others) but all which have progressed to the degree that the patient had to be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility. The author presents ea ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*First-reads giveaway*

If you are interested in psychology you will like this book. Written by a practicing psychiatrist, it describes some of her extreme mental health cases and her desire to treat her patients but with the frustration of not always being able to. A woman who eats broken glass and knives to relieve stress. People who beg to have healthy limbs amputated because those limbs feel alien to them. A woman who keeps having visions of killing her child. Just a few of the cases. There ar
Dylan Hallman
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Falling Into the Fire is a good quick read that presents several interesting stories about a psychiatrist's experiences with patients. Dr. Montross is successful in presenting these illnesses in a way that is accessible to those with non-psychological backgrounds, as well as bridging the gap between those who are mentally ill and those who are not. Her personal anecdotes at the end of each chapter do well to make the reader acutely aware of the humanness of those who are suffering from mental il ...more
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: health, memoir
An interesting quick read. Falling Into the Fire is roughly 3/4 stories about psychiatric illness and 1/4 memoir. The author juxtaposes stories about patients she has treated with the normal problems and joys of the her own life. Dr. Montross is a woman married to another woman. Each woman has given birth to one of their children. I suppose the twist of showing a normal married life for two woman is what got this book published, but I was looking for a bit more of the "mind in crisis" and less o ...more
Noreen Miller
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
For those interested in the field of mental health this would be in informative read. It is at times a bit unorganized, the transitions hard to follow. The descriptions and trail of the author's inclusion of how each case described helped to answer some of her own questions are interesting. This is an up-to-date, released August 2013, look at an often neglected field. ...more
Diana Nagy
While I got through this book pretty quickly, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought that I would. It wasn't terrible it just wasn't great. But don't take my advice, try it out if you already own just might like it yourself. After all, I am unique and so are you. We all like different types of books! ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Overall I enjoyed the book. I rated it a 4 because the content was worthy of a 5 but it did not flow well, so due to the flow of the cases along with the personal input it was bumped down to a 4.
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
fabulous insights, beautifully written
Duane Dunkerson
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Christine Montross, in her book, Falling Into the Fire, has some applicable quotes -
"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?" - from Macbeth

"They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee

"Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves." - from Troilus and Cressida

Not in her book are - "If she sums in analytic art, don't puzzle as by fluxions" - Eradacus Maximus, 17the century.

"If she can see herself in the mirror, don't move the mir
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
As a psychiatrist on an inpatient psychiatric unit/ ward of the hospital, Montross' book gives us a snapshot of patients and disorders she has encountered, rather than case studies of longer term work. She talks about her first impressions of her patients, who came in through the psychiatric emergency room, or were sectioned, and gives us a chance to get to know them, as well as their eventual diagnoses.
What Montrose has created is a well researched book. Sections such as those on pyschogenic no
Kathryn Stewart
Falling Into the Fire is psychiatrist Dr. Christine Montross' accounts of particularly troubling or otherwise difficult patients seen during her early practicing years. The patients' stories she chooses to share are morbidly fascinating, in that readers are given a glimpse of the psychological suffering that so many face.

Dr. Montross attempts to tackle the stigma around psychiatric diseases through a deeply personal account of such topics as self-harm, scizophrenia, hysteria, and obsessive comp
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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.

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2 likes · 0 comments
“Standing on the edge with my patients — abiding with them — means that I must harbor a true awareness that I, too, could lose my child through the play of circumstance over which I have no control. I could lose my home, my financial security, my safety. I could lose my mind. Any of us could.” 2 likes
“Visions and voices and fear and despair cannot be captured by CT scan or measured in the amplitude of EKG waves. Try as we might, we simply cannot predict which of our patients will kill themselves, which will murder their children, and which will leave the hospital healed, never to return.” 1 likes
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