Falling into the Fire

A practicing psychiatrist, Christine Montross, has written about her work by focusing on a number of extreme and unusual kinds of illnesses her patients have suffered. One is a woman who, when stressed, swallows dangerous items like broken glass, nails, knives, scissors and so on that have to be removed. She has to be watched every minute while in the hospital because she’ll swallow anything. A fascinating chapter at the end of the book discusses group manias like the one in the middle ages when people danced themselves to death. Besides the assortment of fascinating case studies, Dr. Montross writes about her medical studies, her own life, and of course about medical treatments and the success–or lack thereof–of treating mental illnesses. Falling into the Fire makes the ordinary reader grateful for being relatively normal and admire the empathy and care that Dr. Montross shows her patients. This is a doctor you’d like to have if you needed to see a psychiatrist.