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Thursday, January 24, 2008

2 Book Reviews of Psychotic Depression

The book Psychotic Depression by Conrad M. Swartz and Edward Shorter (New York, Cambridge University Press 2007, 344 pages, $85) is reviewed in the most recent item of the New England Journal of Medicine. Since it is not freely accessible here the most important part of a short review:

Psychotic Depression is not an arcane diagnostic polemic, and much of the information in it is of interest to the general medical reader. On the other hand, the final chapters and appendixes that try to give a practical outline of treatment seem tacked on and are not authoritative or clearly referenced. The most interesting parts of the book are the discussions of historical cases, such as that of the poet Sylvia Plath and that of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a bathtub in her Texas home in 2001 while in a psychotic depression.

The book lacks a central thesis other than a desire to make general medical practitioners aware that this subtyping of depression may be useful. But the authors did not succeed in truly convincing me. Instead they raised in me a subliminal anxiety because in the past, the introduction of new diagnostic systems in psychiatry was often seen as progress, when in fact these new systems diverted attention from empirical psychiatric research.

An easy accessible review online is from Dr. Block, clinical associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark.
Read her review of Psychotic Depression on Psychiatric Services

I know I should do it myself, it is on my list.

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