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From The CriticsReviewer: William Miles, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This rather large softcover book attempts to discuss the philosophical underpinnings of psychiatric medicine and to bridge a perceived gap between the two disciplines.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a detailed introduction to the field of philosophical psychiatry and to provide a framework of study and skill development in this area. Whether or not these are worthwhile objectives is probably open to interpretation, but given the current state of animosity towards psychiatry, a book like this might certainly be helpful.
Audience: According to the authors, the book is targeted at trainees in psychiatry, practicing mental health professionals, social workers, and public policy makers. The subject matter is too esoteric for the psychiatry resident, but the others would find it interesting.
Features: The book is essentially organized around a series of case studies, focusing on five key topic areas related to philosophy and its application to psychiatry. Each case study is supported by selected readings from both philosophical and mental health fields. Thinking skills exercises, self assessment questions, and key learning points are provided. Numerous topics are discussed, such as philosophical methods, reasons and causes, the concept of free will, and evidence-based psychiatry. Numerous tables and some black-and-white illustrations are included. A very thorough reference list is provided, as well as a CD-ROM for further reading in this area.
Assessment: This is a thorough and interesting book, but it is not light reading. The authors have successfully bridged the apparent gap between philosophy and psychiatry, and emphasize the necessity of approaching psychiatric medicine from a philosophical viewpoint. The book makes for fascinating reading, but some clinicians, and certainly most residents, might find it too cumbersome. Still, for those interested in this topic, this book would provide a very interesting diversion.