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Book Forum: Textbooks   |    
Kaplan & Sadock’s Pocket Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry, 3rd ed.
MALCOLM BOWERS, JR., M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:199-a-199. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.1.199-a
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Edited by Benjamin J. Sadock, M.D., and Virginia A. Sadock, M.D. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001, 479 pp., $49.95 (paper).

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This is the third edition of this book, described by the authors as the "minicompanion" to their larger Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. Each section has been updated and revised and, in the words of the authors,

will be of use to medical students, psychiatric residents, and psychiatrists who require an easily-accessible guide to consult in their day-to-day work with patients. Primary care physicians and others who work with the mentally ill, including psychiatric social workers, nurses, and clinical psychologists, have also found this book useful. (p. vii)

Kaplan & Sadock’s Pocket Handbook is a dense but informative compilation of the current field of clinical psychiatry and as such is filled with lists, charts, and outlines that accurately portray the present framework of diagnostic terminology and treatment guidelines in the field. There are several sections that soften the overall format. Right in front is an extremely handy and comprehensive colored assembly of the drugs used in psychiatry, for example. I also found the "Do’s and Don’ts" sections refreshing and useful. There is such a section for the psychiatric interview, the evaluation of suicidal potential, the assessment of violence, and dealing with grief and bereavement. For example, the authors advise, "Don’t feel that anything must be said. Careful listening can convey that the clinician believes the person is human with something important to say." Regarding suicide, they suggest, "Do ask about suicidal ideas, especially plans to harm oneself. Asking about suicide does not plant the idea." Regarding grief management, they suggest, "Do encourage the ventilation of feelings. Allow the patient to talk about loved ones. Reminiscing about positive experiences can be helpful."

There are other sections that are timely and authoritative as well. Overall this is a compact but useful handbook that has a legitimate role along with the authors’ other more comprehensive textbooks.

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