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From The CriticsReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A. (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: The current concept of schizophrenia is likely to include multiple phenotypically overlapping syndromes and diseases, and schizophrenia can no longer be considered a unitary entity. Any research or clinical recommendations that do not take this heterogeneity seriously has, in my opinion, outlived its usefulness. This book does, for the most part, incorporate the issues of validity and heterogeneity - although many of the chapters use the unitary concept as a default. Written and edited by internationally recognized clinician-researchers in the field, it is a valuable contribution to the psychiatric literature.
Purpose: The purpose, according to the editors, is to provide "updated information on the diagnosis, the neurobiological foundations, and the management of schizophrenia, including aspects ranging from aetiology and pathophysiology to early recognition and treatment." As I noted, you could see the unitary concept creep back!
Audience: The intended audience includes "psychiatrists, psychologists, neuropharmacologists, researchers in psychiatry and psychopharmacology in academia and in industry, and clinical and behavioural neuroscientists."
Features: The first chapter is an excellent and factual review of the diagnosis and classification systems that highlights the major validity issues. The second chapter, which covers the pathophysiological findings in schizophrenia, unfortunately mainly defaults to the unitary concept. Chapter 3 reviews the literature on neurocognition, social cognition, and functional outcome, which are ways to begin the fractionation of the unitary concept, although the authors do not specifically address this issue. The genetics of schizophrenia is covered in chapter 4, which acknowledges that "the genetic architecture of schizophrenia is complex...." The pharmacology of schizophrenia is covered in the next chapter, which notes the unfortunate limitations of available psychotropic medications and the lack of real advances, but proposes strategies to move forward. The two concluding chapters are excellent reviews of cognitive-behavioral interventions and rehabilitation. Each chapter concludes with pertinent and timely citations of the relevant scientific literature.
Assessment: "This new book is useful and current. It covers the important aspects of schizophrenia and it is a worthwhile read, for the most part!