PATIENTS ARE PEOPLE LIKE US: The Experiences of Half a Century in Neuropsychiatry by Henri with Jean LaBorde Baruk

PATIENTS ARE PEOPLE LIKE US: The Experiences of Half a Century in Neuropsychiatry

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For nearly forty years Baruk was director of Charenton, the French mental institution, and his representation of that period has strong moral overtones, an avowed indebtedness to Jewish theology, and a gravelly, opinionated persistence. Upon arrival in 1931 he found appalling conditions--patients chained or drunk, sadistic nurses--which he dutifully altered, upgrading practices and establishing an animal research laboratory which completed several pioneer drug studies. Baruk rubbed shoulders with the big names of French psychiatry--even when he disagreed with them--and his recollections, like those of neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (No Man Alone, p. 772), are rich in anecdote and case history. His characterizations of the better known diagnoses (hysteria, schizophrenia, paranoia, catatonia, neurosis) are distinct and unsimplified, earnestly attentive to the many sources of suffering. And his delineation of more obscure syndromes (hyper-follicular psychosis) testify to a steadfast pursuit of etiology, a reluctance to accept others' diagnoses at face value, and an espoused unwillingness to write off the most obstinate symptoms. As long-time observer and unrestrained reporter, Baruk speaks out fervently, taking issue with particular practices (electroshock, lobotomy, involuntary admission) and providing a catalog of abuses patients have encountered, especially from mercenary relatives and misguided professionals. The relationship of moral conscience and mental health repeatedly absorbs him, and his own Tsedek test of moral discriminations was devised to ascertain mental status. He's prickly and dogmatic, a certain adversary for many species of psychiatrist, but his enduring commitment and special accomplishments register throughout.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1977
Publisher: Morrow