W. B. Essman and L Vaizelli. editors CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS IN PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY, VOL. 2 New York: Spectrum Publications (Halsted Press), 1975, 267 pp., $20.
Both the editors of and the contributors to this volume deserve a great deal of credit, the former for the selection of authors and the latter for the consistently high quality of their contributions. It is rare indeed, in a volume of this sort, to be unable to find a section or even one article of lesser value.
This volume covers many areas of psychopharmacologic research and provides the reader with an excellent review of current developments in the field. Chapter I is a clear, concise, and masterful report of a series of studies of central cholinergic neurons. Besides being intrinsically interesting, it shows how good research should be done. Chapters II and III deal with the convulsant properties of flurothyl and its clinical applications as an alternative to electroconvulsive treatment. A very persuasive argument is made for its efficacy, compared with that of ECT, and its possible advantages in terms of physician acceptance and patient preference. Chapter IV, covering a general theory concerning amphetamine effects, and Chapter VI, on sensory psychopharmacology, are excellent attempts at developing better methods of observation of behavioral phenomena and at formulating general statements with a heuristic value. Although different, these two chapters complement each other and offer a good example of rigorous methodology and careful definition of terms.
In Chapter V, 81 neuroleptic drugs are studied and their action is correlated with six tests that have proved useful in predicting their clinical efficacy. This, too, is an example of good research and provides some idea of the amount of painstaking work entailed in the development of new drugs. Chapter VII is an extensive review of the literature indicating a relationship between brain dopamine, depression and mania, and neurologic diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's chorea. The hypothesis that brain dopamine plays an important part in the pathogenesis and pharmacology of the major endogenous psychoses is well supported by a wealth of data.
In summary, this second volume of the series is excellent in providing the reader with a vast amount of information in a well-organized and highly readable fashion.