Strayhorn J. M. FOUNDATIONS OF CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY Chicago: Year Book Medicai Publishers, 1982, 590 pp., $32.50.
In the preface to his book, Dr. Strayhorn sets before himself an almost impossible task- to write a book that will be meaningful and useful for people at various levels of training from medical student to researcher. Most people would consider an attempt to tackle such a project as a single author an impossibility. What emerges in the book is a well-researched, although personal, view of psychiatry. The fact that this book has a single author contributes to its lack of repetition and the interdependence of various chapters in the book.
Dr. Strayhorn's approach breaks down roughly into two halves. The first half of the book is devoted to diagnosis and theoretical background. One cannot help but applaud the attention that is given to the importance of the therapeutic relationship in his chapter on the making of emphatic statements from simple pragmatic viewpoints. This chapter is worthy of the attention of medical students and beginning residents. However, feeling that a good basis in descriptive psychiatry provides an important foundation for meaningful psychiatric work, it is disappointing that the descriptive elements in this book are largely a summary of DSM-3. The chapters on the various illnesses are similar to review articles and summaries of current research.
While the review article approach may be a weakness in the first half of the book from the standpoint of an introductory text, it serves as a strength when he discusses treatment in the second half of the book. The chapters on psychopharmacology are comprehensive and up-todate and would be useful to those needing a current review of these areas. Throughout the book, the work is well-referenced with extensive bibliographies.
The fact that the book represents Dr. Strayhorn's personal view is both a strength and a weakness. It is at times a very personal view of psychiatry, particularly with the number of comments made in the first person. Forexample, in his chapteronelectro-convulsive therapy, much more space is devoted to research on the question of brain damage than on the efficacy of this treatment. Hopefully the more experienced reader would recognize this bias throughout the book although it is doubtful whether the student or early resident would question the bias as critically.
All in all, Dr. Strayhom should be commended for his presentation of his view of psychiatry. While some people are likely to find parts of his book more helpful than others, his presentation of the various lines of research is both current and precise. This book would be most useful to someone looking for a concise review of current research and treatment in psychiatry.