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From The CriticsReviewer: William Scheftner, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is a systematic exposition of catatonia beginning with its historical descriptions, covering its changes through time and nomenclature, then progressing to clinical features including associated psychopathology, course, research measurement, differential diagnosis, past and current treatments, and pertinent neurology. It is studded with well chosen clinical vignettes from the authors' and others' experience which permit one to vicariously obtain a wealth of clinical experience.
Purpose: "This book...describes the features of catatonia, teaches the reader how to identify and treat the syndrome successfully, and describes its neurobiology." The book fulfills its purpose superbly.
Audience: This book is clearly meant for practicing psychiatrists, neurologists, emergency room physicians, and their residents whose interest has been stimulated by a clinical experience. The authors are world renown neuropsychiatrists whose writings are well read and respected.
Features: The content follows a logical sequence beginning with the 1583 description and progressing through Kahlbaum and later phenomenologists followed by clinical descriptions of each element and how the syndrome appears under other names. Its differential diagnosis, including structural and metabolic conditions associated with catatonia, is then discussed. Catatonia's place in psychopathology, associated psychopathology, research measurement, and classification systems receive a thorough discussion. A review of past and current treatment follows with a discussion of the pathophysiology as inferred from pharmacologic interventions as well as functional MRI and SPECT studies. A review chapter completes the book. Its clinical vignettes are well chosen and further the reader's interest as well as illustrate the discussion point. The book lacks illustrations and visual interest.
Assessment: There are no publications to which I can compare this book. In general, it is a book for clinicians who wish to enhance their knowledge of catatonia and feel confident they are treating it as the experts in the field would suggest. The subtitle, "A Clinicians' Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment" is an apt description. Since the severe, life-threatening forms of catatonia are infrequent, this book will serve as an excellent source for consultation when faced with neuroleptic malignant syndrome, delirious mania, classical catatonia, or other presentations of the syndrome. It comprehensively summarizes and discusses the collective wisdom found in the literature as well as in the practice of these two renowned clinical research scientists. The book succeeds in its purpose and I highly recommend it for those who treat acutely ill patients, particularly in an inpatient setting.