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From The CriticsReviewer: Valerie E Mathis-Allen, MD (Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services)
Description: This is a clearly written, practical, comprehensive, and up-to-date psychiatric textbook written for medical students that is also a resource for any medical professional interested in behavioral medicine. Readers will appreciate the thought-provoking questions and answers and well-defined charts, outlines, and tables in each chapter.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a framework of information for medical students and other healthcare professionals to assist them in helping their patients face and ultimately prevail over the challenges of their life stressors as a result of physical and emotional illnesses. The book meets the goal of addressing the intimate relationship between the mind and the physical health of individuals.
Audience: It is written for medical students in the preclinical and clinical years, but it also is aimed at other medical professionals such as nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists, as well as at physicians already in practice.
Features: The first section, on the life cycle, stresses that physicians need to be aware of physical, social, and cognitive changes that occur during all phases of normal development, so they can recognize and treat abnormal presentations. The second section explains biological, social, and environmental stressors influencing psychiatric illnesses and includes a review of genetics, anatomy, and biochemistry of normal and abnormal behavior. It also discusses neurotransmitters and the biological evaluation of patients with psychiatric symptoms, as well as sleep and its disorders. The third section reviews psychoanalytic theory, learning theory, and clinical psychological assessment and management. The author discusses how understanding the psychodynamic unconscious can help physicians decipher and better understand their patients. The fourth section focuses on psychopathology and reviews DSM-IV-TR and proposed DSM-V changes for psychotic, mood, suicide, anxiety, somatoform, factitious, eating, cognitive, dissociative, and related disorders and their management. Section V discusses family and cultural issues, sexuality, aggression, abuse, and substance abuse, and urges physicians to be aware of their own sexuality in order to effectively address their patients' sexual concerns. The next section, on the doctor-patient relationship, covers communication, personality styles, the role of stress in illness, and legal and ethical issues, and the section on healthcare delivery discusses demographics, costs, health insurance, and government payment for healthcare expenses. Finally, the appendix reviews epidemiology and biostatistics. Chapters are short, clearly written, very informative, and hold readers' attention. Two areas are covered particularly well. The chapter on culture and illness considers the patients' experience and understanding of their illness according to their culture, and the chapter on doctor-patient communication discusses establishing relationships with, eliciting personal information from, and interacting and communicating with patients. The innovative methods the book uses to deliver the information include the captivating chapter introductions, the helpful and varied topics, and the brevity of each chapter. Unique features include the thoughtful vignettes that appear throughout the chapters, and the easy to read and understand tables, charts, and outlines. Chapters end with well-designed questions to test recently acquired knowledge, with answers immediately below. The lack of color art it is a shortcoming, but it is minor. One area that left me wanting more was the wonderful discussion of culture and illness, which did not include the subculture and ethnocultural healthcare issues of Africans in America as distinct from African-Americans.
Assessment: This book is impressive in its scope, addressing the biological and psychological bases of behavior throughout the life cycle, succinctly reviewing psychopathology and social behavior. What makes the book great is at the end, where there are helpful discussions of the doctor-patient relationship, complicated ethical and legal matters, the history of healthcare delivery systems, as well as the explanations, examples, and easy to understand charts in the appendix on medical epidemiology and biostatistics.