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Book Forum: Textbooks   |    
Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Psychiatry
Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:1205-a-1206. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.6.1205-a
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Ann Arbor, Mich.

Edited by Michael E. Ebert, Peter T. Loosen, and Barry Nurcombe. New York, Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill, 2000, 640 pp., $92.95 (paper).

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Producing a textbook of psychiatry that is comprehensive yet succinct, simultaneously encyclopedic and easily digestible, appears to be an impossible task. This multiauthored treatise, described by its publishers as "the perfect reference for quickly answering all day-to-day questions on psychiatric disorders…indispensable for students, residents, psychiatrists, general and family practitioners, and pediatricians," is an excellent attempt at accomplishing the impossible. Its 39 chapters written by different authors cover concepts related to the disparate thematic strands constituting the scientific foundation of modern psychiatry and address topics relevant to diagnosis and treatment of adult and child psychiatric disorders. Although the chapters are of somewhat uneven quality (understandable, given its multiauthored nature), they are all fairly comprehensive and yet succinct. The tables and figures in each chapter encapsulate a large body of information, facilitating easier digestion.

The 39 chapters are organized in five sections. The first section, addressing scientific foundations of psychiatry, contains seven chapters covering developmental psychology, behavioral and cognitive behavior theory, neuropsychopharmacology, psychoanalysis, psychiatric epidemiology, genetics, and health services research. The second section, encompassing nine chapters, covers a variety of clinical techniques and principles of decision-making in psychiatry. Section 3 contains 17 chapters that address diagnostic assessment and treatment of specific psychiatric disorders. Sections 4 and 5, with three chapters each, address techniques and disorders specific to child and adolescent psychiatry.

Despite the outstanding effort, this textbook itself bears testimony to the impossible nature of the task of compiling a succinct comprehensive textbook of psychiatry suitable for all audiences. Furthermore, references in several chapters are dated; in fact, in many chapters the most recent reference is from the 1980s or early 1990s. Published in March 2000, portions of this text are out of date in 2003 (e.g., discussion of ziprasidone and mirtazapine is very terse in the psychopharmacology section, and aripiprazole, atomoxetine, and duloxetine are not even mentioned).

This is an eminently readable textbook that is accessible and fairly comprehensive. It does appear to take on an impossible task, however, and sections need to be updated.

Reprints are not available; however, Book Forum reviews can be downloaded at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org.




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