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Book Forum: Mental, Addictive, and Mood Disorders   |    
Basic and Clinical Science of Mental and Addictive Disorders: Bibliotheca Psychiatrica 167
ROBERT HOWARD, M.A., M.D., M.R.C.PSYCH.
Am J Psychiatry 1999;156:658-658.
View Author and Article Information
London, England

edited by L.L. Judd, B. Saletu, V. Filip. Basel, Switzerland, Karger, 1997, 258 pp., $214.00.

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My 3-year-old daughter Rebecca judges the success or otherwise of her own and her friends’ birthday parties by the size and quality of content of the "party bags" given to the children as they leave for home. If you get the composition of the bags right, these lasting spoils ensure that your party is remembered as a good one long after the venue and expensive entertainments are forgotten. My own generation expected little more than a slice of cake, a party hat, and a balloon. Times and children, however, have changed, and my wife and I would not dare to do other than work hard on the party bag front. The organizers of medical conferences are afflicted by similar insecurities in their efforts to give attendees the feeling that an enjoyable and useful time was had by all. Natty conference bags, important-looking name badges, smart pens, impressive abstract booklets, and (at extra cost unless you were a special guest) a book of the proceedings. Basic and Clinical Science of Mental and Addictive Disorders is the book of the July 1995 Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP) Regional Conference held in Vienna and Prague. I gathered from Lewis Judd’s preface that the CINP organizing committee hoped that this meeting would foster better relationships between Eastern and Central European basic and clinical scientists and their counterparts from the West as well as introducing the CINP to potential members in these countries. I did not attend the meeting, but reading this book made me feel as though I had checked in to the conference hotel the night before the meeting opened, read the abstract book of the proceedings, and then returned home!

Forty-six chapters, many of them no more than short abstracts, occupy the book’s 249 pages. Rather like browsing through a journal, it is usually the papers you encounter on the way to the reference you are really after that are the most interesting, and there are certainly some pertinent snippets in this volume. The brevity of the contributions, however, means that the reader is almost invariably left wanting more. Books that come out of conferences work and sell well when they tackle a particular area or related areas. As the title of this book might suggest, there is no clearly identifiable theme to its contents, and this is a very serious deficiency.

The book is beautifully bound and printed with attractive color plates, and even those of us with the shortest of attention spans will find it easy to read. Maybe, like Rebecca and her friends, you have to have been at the party to really appreciate the party bag.

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