Sometimes Amazing Things Happen

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What to expect

Elizabeth Ford went through medical school unsure of where she belonged. It wasn’t until she did her psychiatry rotation that she found her calling—to care for one of the most vulnerable populations of mentally ill people, the inmates of New York City’s jails, including Rikers Island, who are so sick that they are sent to the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward for care.

These men were broken, without resources or support, and very ill. They could be violent, unpredictable, but they could also be funny and tender and needy. Mostly, they were human and they awakened in Ford a boundless empathy. Her patients made her a great doctor and a better person.

While Ford was a psychiatrist at Bellevue she became a wife and a mother. In her book she shares her struggles to balance her personal and professional lives, to care for her children and her patients, and to maintain the empathy that is essential to her practice—all in the face of a complex institution, an exhausting workload, and the deeply emotionally taxing nature of her work.

Ford brings humor, grace, and humanity to the lives of the patients in her care and in beautifully rendered prose illuminates the inner workings (and failings) of our mental health and criminal justice systems.

Critics Review

  • Sometimes Amazing Things Happen possesses the power to open eyes, change attitudes, and affirm the worth of society’s most afflicted and forgotten individuals.”

    Wally Lamb, #1 New York Times bestelling author
  • “Testifies to the kind of love that physicians can offer: a dogged, practical devotion…Ford is human here, and thus imperfect. She describes burning out, her failings as a parent…The story is graphic and real but, as in most physician memoirs, details are withheld.”

    New York Times
  • “Ford writes with gravity about her experience as a psychiatrist treating the incarcerated population…She is also able to write with hope about moments of kindness and small victories that may bring larger ones for these men .”

    Electric Literature
  • “A rare insider’s view of what happens in a mental hospital and on a psychiatric prison ward…a must read.”

    Benjamin Sadock, MD, NYU School of Medicine
  • “An unadorned exploration of how a doctor maintains hope and perseveres in the face of overwhelming human and institutional dysfunction.”

    Marvin Swartz, MD, Duke University School of Medicine
  • “As the tales unfold, readers are carried away on the amazing journey displaying the resilience of the human spirit and the chance for healing and hope.”

    Debra A. Pinals, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry, University of Michigan

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