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Book Forum: Eating Disorders   |    
Eating Disorders: WPA Series Evidence and Experience in Psychiatry, vol. 6
LAURA L. POST, M.D., Ph.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:415-415. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.2.415
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Saipan, MP (USA)

Edited by Mario Maj, Katherine Halmi, Juan José Lòpez-Ibor, and Norman Sartorius. New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2003, 435 pp., $135.00.

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There is, perhaps, no other subspecialty in the area of mental health that has developed as quickly or spread as broadly as that of eating disorders. This is so because non-Western countries are clinically experiencing morbidity and mortality from eating disorders in their societies and are doing their own research and reporting. Moreover, general medicine has recognized that eating disorders substantially overlap into their realm and are similarly contributing to knowledge in the field. Finally, because eating disorders are complex mixes of psychology and physiology and incorporate multiple distinct syndromes, nonpsychiatric mental health professionals have accumulated their respective expertise in recognition and treatment.

This volume, one in a World Psychiatric Association series that also includes affective disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, and compulsive disorder, is a collection of essays from experts from the United States and Europe that address several components of eating disorders in addition to the fundamental nosology and intervention. The first chapter, emphasizing codiagnoses and mentioning controversies, is very strong in writing and in examples, as well as fascinating in its historical overview, dating from the ancient Roman Empire. The second chapter, focusing on epidemiology, is equally solid, although the dearth of cross-cultural information is dismaying. Chapter 3, on physical complications and aberrations, and chapter 6, offering perspectives on the economic and social burdens of eating disorders, are comparably superior. Chapters 4 (pharmacological treatments) and 5 (psychotherapeutic interventions) are more rudimentary, providing little astonishingly novel or experimental.

In summary, this book promises much and delivers well. For the novice care provider or the scientifically minded patient, this book will deliver a thoughtful synopsis of current literature. For the professional experienced with patients who have adverse relationships with food, this is a nice review but will neither answer all questions nor suggest new approaches.

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