Lance L. Simpson, editor DRUG TREATMENT OF MENTAL DISORDERS New York: Raven Press, 1975, 323 pp., $13.50.
Many psychopharmacologic texts are of limited use, owing to their repetition of previously published material and their inclusion of "new" material that has become either irrelevant or common knowledge by the time the book is published. In contrast, this book's "growing edge" is preserved by the contributions of widely acknowledged authorities in the field of psychopharmacology. These chapters have been written as though the authors are talking to the clinician who needs to know more than he has learned from standard texts and sporadic journal articles. The contributions are practical in their orientation and speak clearly and directly to the increasingly complex and sophisticated requirements of today's clinician.
Each major group of drugs is discussed in a thorough, but carefully honed, manner. The authors include sufficient functional biochemistry to give the reader an adequate framework for an understanding of the ensuing discussions of treatment rationale, sideeffect dilemmas, and drug interactions. Among the highlights are Seymour Kety's chapter on genetics (Copenhagen study) and biochemical abnormalities associated with schizophrenia, Jonathan Cole's observations about phenothiazine therapy (particularly his observations on thé treatmentresistant schizophrenic and the acute and long-term side effects of phenothiazines), and Donald Klein's succinct summary of his pragmatic approach to a differential diagnosis of anxiety - an approach that leads to a rational choice of an antianxiety medication rather than a response to the poorly defined condition that may lead to tranquilizer misuse.
The emphasis on careful delineation of the illness, target symptoms, course, and biophysiologic substrate as bases for drug treatment is continued in the chapters on depression (by Dennis Murphy, John M. Davis, Lance Simpson, and Bruce Cabot). The promise of psychopharmacology's contribution to a greater understanding of the nature and cause of the illness itself is demonstrated in a brief but informationally rich chapter on the neuropharmacology of mania by Baron Shopsin, Samuel Gershon, and Gerald Selzer.
There are welcome chapters, with excellent bibliographies, on the use of psychopharmacologic agents in pediatrics (Magela Campbell and Arthur M. Small) and the aged (Murray Raskind and Carl Eisdorfer). There is an entire chapter devoted to an overview of adverse reactions to psychotherapeutic drugs (Leo Hollister). In many ways, I found John Kaufmann's chapter on drug interactions the most challenging. An expertise in this area will certainly be an increasingly major requirement of the adequately trained clinician.
In summary, I believe that this is an excellent text. There are many current pearls offered at bargain prices in terms of the reader's time and attention. The contributions provide a solid core with which future knowledge can be integrated. A superb job of editing adds greatly to the book's readability and the overall clearness of the authors' goals.