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Book Forum: Neuropsychiatry   |    
Neuropsychiatry: An Introductory Approach
Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:803-804. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.4.803
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Lebanon, N.H.

By David B. Arciniegas and Thomas P. Beresford. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2002, 438 pp., $140.00; $50.00 (paper published 2001).

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The field of neuropsychiatry, prominent in the 19th century, has once again emerged as a specialty area. This is due, at least in part, to major advances in the basic and clinical neurosciences, which have added to our knowledge base with regard to the neurobiological basis of cognition, emotion, and behavior. In the last 15–20 years, there has been an explosion of scientific information available to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with neuropsychiatric disorders. Although this progress is of great value, the sheer enormity of the available information can be overwhelming to newcomers and those interested in, but not totally familiar with, the field of neuropsychiatry. To meet this need, Neuropsychiatry: An Introductory Approach was developed as a practical introductory guide to serve as a starting point for anyone interested in brain-behavior relationships and the treatment of neuropsychiatric problems.

The book serves as an overview of concepts and methods rather than as an exhaustive treatise on all neuropsychiatric problems, and it is divided into three major sections. Part 1 (chapters 1–7) reviews the history and current status of neuropsychiatry. In this section, Arciniegas and Beresford introduce a neuropsychiatric approach to use for conceptualizing and understanding basic and complex cognition, emotion, personality, and psychological adaptation. Part 2, A Neuropsychiatric Approach to Evaluating the Patient, describes the fundamental tools that should be used to understand neuropsychiatric disorders, including the neuropsychiatric evaluation, mental status examination, electrophysiology, and neuroimaging techniques. Finally, part 3 (chapters 12–18) examines several neuropsychiatric disorders with the purpose of providing an explicit application of the relevant concepts and methods discussed in part 1. Selected topics relevant to clinical neuropsychiatry are highlighted, including delirium, dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury, as well as diminished motivation, apathy, and alcoholism and other alcohol-related disorders. The ultimate goal is to permit generalizability and application of the approach to the clinical management and care of patients with other neuropsychiatric disorders.

The book is well written and easy to read and provides a cohesive, interesting, and clinically applicable learning tool for medical students, residents, allied health clinicians, and others motivated to learn about the neuropsychiatric approach. The goal of this book was not trivial—"to make the material engaging but relatively simple, and therefore useful" (p. xviii) as well as "offering enough information to convey the richness of the material, while not losing the notion of a practical, introductory guide to understanding neuropsychiatry among the seemingly endless details that might be included" (p. xviii). The authors are very clear about their purpose, and about the selectivity of the topics chosen to be included. The book is not an exhaustive review of neuropsychiatric disorders, and this is deliberate so that readers would not be distracted from the book’s primary purpose—exposure to the neuropsychiatric approach itself. Throughout the book, the authors do an admirable job providing the basic and clinical scientific foundation needed to evaluate and treat neuropsychiatric patients competently, without losing sight of their goal to keep it simple and relevant.

Kudos to Drs. Arciniegas and Beresford for taking on such a worthy venture, and for a job well done. I sincerely believe that Neuropsychiatry: An Introductory Approach will be an asset to anyone who uses it.




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