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From The CriticsReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Patients with medically unexplained symptoms often end up with a neuropsychological referral to differentiate neurological involvement from the psychological manifestation of a somatoform disorder. This book provides information on the assessment and management of somatoform disorders.
Purpose: The intent is to provide clinicians with a conceptual understanding of somatoform disorders and the tools to effectively and empathically manage them.
Audience: Neuropsychologists are the immediately narrow target audience. Most probably clinicians outside this field, other than clinical psychologists, will find it of little professional value, unless there is a personal interest. The author is a leading authority in this field.
Features: A well written chapter describing the current problems with DSM-IV and ICD-10 nosology begins the book. Within current diagnostic frameworks, a number of epidemiological studies are described from various samples, including community, primary care, and neurological clinics. An exploration of the underpinnings of somatoform disorders has a careful review of different perspectives, such as biological, behavioral, psychoanalytic, and early attachment. A thoughtful section on cultural issues goes beyond the typical concerns with the validity of assessment instruments. The book covers general assessment concerns with somatoform disorder, but also includes information on specific medically unexplained syndromes. These are compared to various neurologically based syndromes that can look similar (e.g., multiple sclerosis or epilepsy) to alert clinicians to potential confounds. The approaches to managing and treating patients with somatoform disorders are varied, but include notable time discussing cognitive behavioral interventions. The final two case studies provide a juxtaposed view of patients within a range of presentations.
Assessment: This book maintains the high standard of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology series and provides an enlightening study of the difficult challenge of somatoform disorders. Readers delving into the material will acquire an empathic understanding of these patients and gain valuable insights into their management, especially during post-evaluation follow-up.