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Approach to the Psychiatric Patient: Case-Based Essays

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  • Posted May 21, 2009

    I just returned from the American Psychiatric Association meetings and read this book on the flight home. I've been reading medical textbooks for many years, and I haven't previously seen such a book. Bravo!

    What makes this book unique?

    First, each of the 10 cases gets about ten discussions from different psychiatrists and psychologists. Among the 100 authors are some of the real stars in the field of psychiatry. To start listing them would inevitably leave out well-known people, but there are some really incisive discussions by George Alexopoulos (geriatrics), Paul Appelbaum (ethics), Bill Breitbart (palliative care), Marty Bruce (sociology), Kathy Halmi (eating disorders), John Markowitz (IPT), a bunch of really astute analysts and analytic researchers (Betsy Auchincloss, John Clarkin, Arnie Cooper, Janis Cutler, Rick Friedman, Otto Kernberg, Eric Marcus, Bob Michels, Roy Schafer, Ted Shapiro, Milt Viederman, etc), some hot shot scientists and basic researchers like Francis Lee, Sarah Lisanby, John Mann, Bruce McEwen, and David Silbersweig, social and cultural commentators like Fran Cournos, Kim Hopper, and Mindy Fullilove. I could easily go on, but it's an impressive list. That they come from one institution is impressive--though the editor is quick to point out that while they generally fall under the New York Presbyterian Hospital umbrella, the authors come from a set of lossely connected institutions like Columbia and Cornell medical schools, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller University, etc.

    And that may be why the essays offer up such sharp perspectives--these guys (and gals) know each other and they seemed to have tried to outdo each other in being incisive and thoughtful.

    As I implied, I've been reading textbooks for decades, and I learned quite a lot. But what is most unusual about this book--in addition to its unique format--is that while psychiatrists (and trainees) may be the target audience, it is also the first introduction to the field of psychiatry that is good enough for me to want to buy a copy for my adult son.

    I should add that I know some of the authors (though not all 100!), which might affect my viewpoint a little, but I know lots of psychiatrists who've written books and this is the first time I've felt compelled to write an online review. I'll also add that some of the authors are well known to be intellectual dynamos but not easily "bent into shape;" hats off, then, to Dr. Barnhill for signing everyone up and then getting them to fit their meaty essays into the rather tight space limitations--that couldn't have been easy!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2010

    This is the best textbook I've read--good enough that I even decided to do a review!

    The best single thing about this book is its structure. After they lay out one of the 10 interesting cases, about a dozen experts give their angle on that particular case. There isn't a psych textbook like it.

    The second best thing is that the individual essays are really focused, thoughtful, and smart. Each essay is also very easy to read in one sitting, though the diligent among us can probably read a whole chapter without getting out of the chair.

    Overall, it's a really terrific read. Highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2010

    Terrific

    Smart, interesting, provocative. reads almost like a novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    It was really interesting to read about a clinical case and then see such different perspectives on basically the same information. I'm a medical student who plans to go into psychiatry and haven't had much in the way of psychoanalytic exposure, and I was surprised to read psychodynamic essays on every case, including the delirious guy in the ER, the schizophrenic man, and the dying woman in the hospital. Given all the mixed information that is coming out on medications, DSM, and psychotherapy, this is the sort of book that helps sort out what experts think and do in an imperfect world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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