Debut author Sakkas, a medical doctor, uses the circumstances of his own patients to support his opinions on brain disorders and other issues.
The book begins with a section called “The Human Brain: an admirable computer,” which focuses on four main functions: the brain’s vast abilities in memory; its ability as a “search engine”; its nerve-cell plasticity and facility in creating new brain networks; and human habits or “programmes.” The author then outlines his knowledge and opinions on various diseases and disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, mania, anorexia nervosa, and dementia using his own memorable cases as support. In later chapters, he addresses such issues as narcotics abuse, divorce, and suicide, among others. The book’s overall structure lacks the organization that one might find in a more traditional textbook on the same topics. Instead, it has a conversational style, with passages often blooming from lingering thoughts put forward in previous chapters. Readers may find merit in how Sakkas is depicted as something like a village doctor, often showing warm regard for his patients. But although the book aims for a colloquial tone, its lack of references and endnotes calls into question its metaphorical contemplations. A section on schizophrenia, for example, compares the illness to a “tiny short-circuit,” an observation that could be construed as reductive. The same section may also be somewhat divisive, as the author espouses a lack of sympathy for society’s expressions of shock and mourning after major, violent massacres by schizophrenics, referring to such reactions as “crocodile tears shed to cover what is in essence the indifference of society toward the disabled.” This statement is well-meaning, as it asks readers to contemplate the idea that modern cultures often perpetuate stigmas about mental illness or ignore it altogether. However, its gruff tone regarding a sensitive issue may cause some readers to balk.
Roaming, conversational musings on psychiatry principles and phenomena.