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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A.(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: It is most unfortunate that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains an underutilized and frequently neglected lifesaving treatment modality. ECT is the most effective treatment in psychiatry for melancholia and catatonic states, relieving these illnesses more quickly, safely, and fully than psychotropic medication or any other intervention. Over his career, Max Fink, MD, has been an unwavering, stalwart advocate for the effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy in general and its use over other treatments for serious mental Illness. This is Dr. Fink's latest addition to his extensive body of work and is representative of his gifts as a teacher and a clinician. It is a welcome addition to the psychiatric literature.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide answers to common questions asked by patients, their families, and professionals such as: "Is this treatment still used? Is it safe? Is there a risk of brain damage? Will there be memory loss?" Dr. Fink hopes that "this book will help you understand and appreciate its (ECT) potential to heal the severely psychiatrically ill." Indeed, Dr. Fink has produced a very readable and informative guide.
Audience: Those faced with the decision of whether to use ECT are the intended audience, which includes patients, their families, and clinicians — primary care physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists. It should be required reading for residents (trainees) in psychiatry residency training programs.
Features: The book covers what ECT is, the treatment from the patient's perspective, the treatment technique, side effects, and the use of ECT in various disorders, including mood disorders, movement disorders, psychosis, pregnancy, and pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders, how it might work, the history of ECT, whether brain stimulation is an alternative to ECT, and the ethics of ECT. The best parts of the book are the patient vignettes that provide sketches of real life psychiatric situations. The useful appendixes include a list of diagnoses for which ECT is considered to be effective and ineffective, a sample informed consent document, and common medication names and uses. The bibliography contains relevant and important citations on recent research on ECT.
Assessment: This new edition is an instructive and readable guide to ECT for clinicians, patients, and families faced with severe, unrelenting, and disabling psychopathology.