Hong Kong J Psychiatry 2000;10(2):25-27


Understanding Psychiatric Treatment: Therapy for Serious Mental Health Disorder in Adults

Editors: O’Mahony G, Lucey JV
John Wiley & Sons Ltd, New York, USA, 1998.
US$55.00; pp200; ISBN: 0-471-97570-2.

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The essence of this book can be gleaned from the following excerpt in the preface: “This book originated from case discussions in the Department of Psychological Medicine, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. … This book is about therapy. It is not a textbook of psychiatry. We have drawn together a group of contributors to set out brief accessible accounts of a variety of common treatments. Not every treatment in psychiatry is described. Neither do we attempt to prescribe the management of specific conditions. Instead we have asked contributors to describe the essentials of the most widely applied methods in clinical practice.

Apart from one introductory chapter on treatment planning, the specific areas covered include psychoanalytic thinking, group therapy, social and community psychiatry, behavioural and cognitive therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, physical treatments for depression, prophylaxis of affective disorders, and antipsychotic therapy.

The end product is what it says it is — brief accounts of a variety of common treatments. The outcome, however, appears to fall between two places — the is not detailed enough for veterans, while not being systematic and explanatory enough for beginners. This is not a bad book from reading the individual pages, but it would be difficult to know to whom the book should be recommended. Something can be learned from this book, but it won’t necessarily be better than reading the corresponding parts in a general textbook.

Finally, I would like to draw attention to a number of printing errors encountered. While many of these are typographical in nature, graver mistakes include the chemical structure of desipramine being incorrectly drawn as identical to that of imipramine, while that of nortriptyline appears to be identical to amitriptyline!

Dr HK Cheung
Chief of Service
Castle Peak Hospital
Hong Kong

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