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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A.(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: This is a new book covering "biological" (is there nonbiological psychiatry?) psychiatry. Although the book is edited by an internationally recognized neuroscientist and many of the chapters are written by well-known clinician/researchers in psychiatry, I believe that the book has significant shortcomings that would not allow me to recommend it.
Purpose: The purpose of the book, according to the editor, "... was to seek the middle ground - a balance of facts and theories, as well as consideration of both clinical and preclinical perspectives." Unfortunately, several of the chapters tend to be weighted toward the theory side. It appears that the critical, evidenced-based approach that permeates much of the book was suspended for chapters that cover psychoanalysis and "depth psychological consequences of brain damage." Also, glaringly missing was virtually any discussion of cognitive neuroscience in relationship to psychopathology. Cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, hallucinations, or delusions are not even listed in the index of a textbook of biological psychiatry!
Audience: The intended audience, according to the editor, is students, teachers, and practitioners, as well as "... scientists who harvest the basic knowledge from which future understanding must emerge."
Features: The book is divided into three parts and 21 chapters and includes an appendix and index section. Part I contains chapters covering the history of biological psychiatry, an excellent chapter on the neuroimaging of emotion and affect, and interesting chapters on the neural substrates of consciousness, stress, sleep, sexuality, psychobiology of personality disorders, and functional neuroimaging. Part II covers specific syndromes and includes some excellent chapters on depression, treatment of mood disorders, neuroscience of schizophrenia, PTSD, panic disorder, OCD, childhood neuropsychiatric disorders, and aging/dementia. Part III has also some outstanding chapters on fear and anxiety, somatic treatments, evolutionary aspects of psychiatry, and neuropeptides. There is also a useful appendix on pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The index is generally helpful.
Assessment: Psychoanalysis continues to be the nonscientific "elephant in the room" of psychiatry. To continue to attempt the resurrection of psychoanalysis and the bootstrapping of it to modern neuroscience, in my opinion, is a waste of intellectual effort, given advances in elucidating the relationships between brain function and behavior through such disciplines as behavioral/molecular genetics, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, neuropharmacology, and evolutionary psychology. If Freud were alive today, I believe he would be a cognitive neuroscientist. This book, although it has some excellent sections, does not compare to other books of this genre.