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Doody ReviewsReviewer: Steve Paschos, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is an attempt to examine mental illness through a common pathway of brain dysfunction which can be evaluated through an integrative approach using genes, memes (memory with portability) , and culture.
Purpose: The author wishes to integrate biological and social sciences for the "indivisible organism, the patient.
Audience: He hopes to stimulate thinking and innovation among various professionals, including psychiatrists, physicians, healthcare professionals, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists, in short anyone interested in the intersection of humans, behavior, and mental illness in the setting of biology and emotions.
Features: Part I considers mental illness in the setting of an epigenetic model considering genes, memes, and culture. Part II examines evolution and learning which leads to the emergence of memes and how they function as pathogenic, symbiotic, and beneficial entities. Part III explores new principles of diagnosis and treatment based on gene and meme interactions and discusses an axis I and II system with I for phenomenological and neurophysiomemetic diagnosis and II for genetic and neuroscience diagnosis. It also discusses treatment in terms of memetic therapy in the setting of existing psychotherapies and virtual reality therapy with avatars. Prevention and education are discussed as crucial parts of early identification of vulnerable individuals. Part IV breaks down and discusses specific psychiatric syndromes with memetic diagnosis, gene-meme interaction in development, and genetic-memetic treatment for each category. The book uses multiple tables and pictures.
Assessment: This is a new take on mental illness, an attempt to integrate biology, i.e. genetics, and sociology in explaining, diagnosing, and treating it. The figures and pictures are helpful in attempting to explain this difficult material, as the principles can be a challenging read. This is an interesting, albeit complex, unique view of mental illness in a world dominated by the DSM and the biopsychosocial model which does not provide true concrete, in-depth biological reasons for mental illness. This is a good read for someone looking for more and varied theoretical explanatory models of mental illness, but it comes at a rather expensive price ($129 at the time of review).