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From The CriticsReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Medically unexplained illnesses or "fashionable illnesses" describe syndromes of nonspecific symptoms that often overlap and do not have readily identifiable medical etiologies. Nonetheless, these diseases are frequently encountered and are often associated with psychosocial factors. This book explores these illnesses from an integrated biopsychosocial viewpoint.
Purpose: The purpose is to review the current research regarding the interaction and contributions of biological, psychological, and sociological factors to the development, maintenance, and treatment of medically unexplained illnesses.
Audience: According to the author, this book will appeal to psychologists and other healthcare professionals interested in the mind-body interaction in medically unexplained illnesses. Primary care physicians will likely find this of interest due to the frequent presentation of these illnesses in primary care clinics. The author is an associate professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Features: The book is logically organized with a clear progression of topics. It begins with an overview of medically unexplained illnesses, including reviews of the literature about potential biological underpinnings, psychiatric disorders, and cognitive and social factors. It covers specific illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and multiple chemical sensitivities. The latter chapters are focused on various treatment approaches to each of these illnesses. Each chapter includes a detailed description of studies that have been conducted and is generally thorough in exploring possible contributing factors or theories regarding the etiology of the syndrome. The writing style makes the material easy to digest and the inclusion of introductory and concluding sections for each chapter is very helpful. There are a few summary tables, but little else in the way of figures. The references are current and the index is methodical.
Assessment: The author presents an informative and balanced book on the topic of medically unexplained illnesses. It takes a multidisciplinary perspective on these illnesses and imparts critical information about psychosocial interventions that may be more appropriate and effective than traditional medical treatments. Although there are many medically unexplained illnesses that are not addressed in this book, this is not a major limitation as the ideas presented are generally applicable to the field.