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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Description: This basic introduction to the field of psychiatry uses case examples and diagnostic criteria and information based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV).
Purpose: The purpose is to introduce the practice of psychiatry to those with little knowledge or understanding of the diagnosis, etiology, treatment, and prognosis for various types of mental illness.
Audience: The authors intend this book "primarily for medical students," though they suggest it also might be useful for psychiatric residents early in their training.
Features: The first section addresses basic concepts in the diagnosis, etiology, and assessment (interviewing) of those with psychiatric disorders, while the second describes the diagnostic categories and illnesses involved in the evaluation of patients. The third section is devoted to special topics such as sleep disorders, legal issues, and psychotherapeutic treatment modalities. Numerous tables and case examples accompany the text, as well as a few figures and drawings. Some chapters conclude with summaries of key points, and all chapters end with self-assessment questions. A bibliography offers a number of references for each chapter.
Assessment: Though I am personally unfamiliar with prior editions of this book, medical students rotating through our department of psychiatry are provided with the previous edition at the start of their experience. They found the fourth edition useful as a reference, but chose instead to study from other, higher-yield resources in preparation for their shelf examination at the end of their rotation. This book is well written, and provides readers with much of the fundamental information required to have a very basic working knowledge of the specialty. Clearly, those requiring a more in-depth understanding of the diagnosis, etiology, assessment, and treatment of individuals with psychiatric problems will find it essential to reference more complete works. However, this basic introduction serves its purpose for its intended audience.