NONFICTION

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

Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Aug. 2013. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594203930. $25.95. PSYCH
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Montross (psychiatry, Brown Univ.; Body of Work) here presents a concise analysis of present-day practices in psychiatry based on encounters with patients whose stories provoked deeper exploration of psychiatry's current definitions of what it means to "help" and/or "harm." Her admission to having "more faith in medicine before becoming a doctor" suggests a lens of thinking that stretches beyond training to reveal a trustworthy experience. Montross juxtaposes current case studies with historic examples to discuss questions such as why do some people rise with fortitude to meet change and why do others pull back. Her poetic insights into how tragedies may be understood stir empathy, as Montross delves into the details of the history of her patients, some who inexplicably land in the hospital repeatedly for swallowing lightbulbs. This beautifully written book doesn't offer answers but rather encourages compassion.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in current practices in psychiatry and stories intersecting research and personal memoir.

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