His name was Joshua Silver. He was 23 years old, educated, and had an impressive vocabulary. The NYPD had found Joshua Silver naked in Times Square, barking like a dog.
It was just another night for Julie Holland, the attending doctor in the world-famous Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric emergency room. Every weekend for nine years, it was Holland's job to evaluate and treat all patients admitted, from the schizophrenic to the bipolar to the traumatized, from the homicidal to the suicidal to victims of unthinkable crimes.
In this absorbing memoir, Holland provides a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life-altering experience at Bellevue, recounting stories of the patients who moved, terrified, fascinated, and amused her, the patients who helped her grow in ways she never imagined. Along the way she documents her life outside the hospital - her relationship with her husband and the births of their children; her own therapy sessions, which helped her finally crack through the tough exterior she had formed; and her close bond with her best friend and mentor, Lucy, a fellow doctor whose battle with cancer left Holland forever changed.
As author and narrator, Julie Holland characterizes a bizarre cast of patients - schizophrenics, potential suicides, and those who think they're possessed by spirits - whom she met as admitting physician of the psychiatric emergency room of Bellevue hospital, in New York City. She also portrays the hospital staff, including arrogant doctors, kooky social workers, and supportive nurses. Turning a witty, astute lens on herself, she reveals an array of personal struggles - fear of a stalker, the death of a colleague, the challenges of staying sane while working with the insane. Holland's ironic and self-mocking tones and her varied accents are as engaging as her stories. Though her writing is sometimes disjointed, her pacing is exquisite.
"An extraordinary insider's look at the typical days and nights of that most extraordinary place, written with a rare combination of toughness, tenderness, and outrageous humor, this book is a fast read that you will savor long after you have put it down." (Andrew Weil, MD)
"Equal parts affecting, jaw-dropping, and engrossing." (Booklist)
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