MIND, MOOD, AND MEDICINE: A Guide to the New Biopsychiatry by
Kirkus Star

MIND, MOOD, AND MEDICINE: A Guide to the New Biopsychiatry

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A high level of sophistication and learning makes this presentation of an essentially eclectic/pragmatic point of view in psychiatry impressive indeed. Wender, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Utah, and Klein, a Columbia professor and Director of Psychiatric Research at New York Psychiatric Institute, write convincingly of the nature/nurture interactions that generate not just the major psychoses but many non-psychotic disorders as well. ""In our view,"" they state, ""mental illness consists of poorly functioning brain regulatory mechanisms that produce distressing symptoms, upsetting, ineffective actions, and some degree of voluntary impairment. . . Adoption studies, responses to medication, and studies of brain chemistry point to a biological component in mental illnesses and to heredity as a large contributing factor."" That summary comes fairly late, following closely-written chapters--with richly-detailed case histories--that delineate a spectrum of illnesses from panic fear to acute schizophrenia, including ""hysteroid dysphioria,"" adult hyperactivity, and a cluster of personality disorders sometimes (but not exclusively) found in families: antisocial behavior, childhood hyperactivity, alcoholism, and a kind of doctor-seeking, surgery-seeking behavior described as Briquet's Syndrome. (The total number of disorders discussed reflects a current tendency to split rather than to lump mental illnesses.) Following the longish chapters examining prototypes, Wender and Klein present a concise history of insulin, electroshock, and drug treatments; evidence for the genetic basis of several syndromes; and an outline of contemporary schools of therapy. Their advocacy of the use of psychoactive drugs (the ""bio"" part of biopsychiatry) is underscored by their examples of conditions like panic fear which, though often not amenable to analysis, behavior modification, etc., do respond to antidepressant drugs. On the other hand, in an illuminating chapter on ""The Threefold Nature of Unhappiness"" (realistic unhappiness, maladaptation, mental illness), the authors make it clear that people frequently seek psychiatric help for reasons rooted in life-situations which no drug can alleviate. For an up-to-date view on Western psychiatry, a reader could hardly do better.

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 1981
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux