Falling into the fire christine montross

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falling into the fire christine montross

Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrists Encounters with the Mind in Crisis by 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
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Published 07.09.2019

Christine Montross wins Emerging Author Category in first Indiana Authors Award

Falling into the Fire by Christine Montross, review

Lauren swallows scissors, light bulbs, batteries, bedsprings, knives. Colin feels love emanating from everything. They all appear in Dr. What does a good psychiatrist do, asks Montross, when she encounters someone like Lauren or Eddie or Colin? When their experiences cannot be accounted for — or helped by — what we know about medicine, or the brain? What then?

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I t's apt that the opening chapter of Christine Montross 's second book is titled Bedlam, since an account such as this could easily, in less compassionate hands, become a modern-day version of London's old Bethlem hospital, where the mentally disordered were exposed to the public gaze as curiosities. Montross is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University and a practising clinical psychiatrist, and her book reflects both strands of her work; it is rich with historical background and searching questions about the ethics of psychiatric treatment. But it is the vividly drawn case studies she shares — the human faces of her hospital's most terrifying disorders — that make the book so compelling. Each chapter considers a particular aspect of psychiatric medicine through the lens of an individual's condition. Through Colin, who arrives dressed as Jesus in the grip of an apparently benign mania, she firmly debunks the romanticisation of madness and reflects on the point at which heightened spiritual experience can tip into illness. Here, as so often in mental health care, the moral questions are inseparable from the practical issue of resources.

But Goldwyn lived in an age where dissidents, gay people and unmarried mothers were routinely declared insane and dispatched to psychiatric wards from which they never escaped. As both an academic at Brown University and a clinical psychiatrist, Montross is perfectly placed to consider such matters. And so to Laura, a young woman who swallows batteries, steak knives and bed springs, and has to be kept under guard in a hospital room stripped of all consumables until surgeons can operate. To Colin, who is convinced that inanimate objects are emanating pure love at him; to Gregg, whose perfectly healthy leg feels so alien that he begs doctors to amputate it; and to Anna, daily tortured by her fears of killing her baby. Oliver Sacks' most mind-bending experiment. Confessions of an analyst. That there are no certain answers to these questions only makes them more absorbing.

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. 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. Montross writes beautifully about the deep-seated illnesses that challenge therapist and psychiatrists. 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. Montross seamlessly weaves together history, reportage and memoir while reflecting on the difficult questions that arise as she digs into psychiatry's past.

3 thoughts on “Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrists Encounters with the Mind in Crisis by Christine Montross

  1. Falling Into the Fire is psychiatrist Christine Montross's thoughtful investigation of the gripping patient encounters that have challenged and deepened her.

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