I have been weekly posting on this blog for over two years without ever mentioning my first book about clinical psychiatry. It was while very actively practicing psychiatry that I also nurtured the philosophical life about which these blog posts have been written. But, when I was practicing, these philosophical issues were decidedly not part of my practice. In fact, my treatments had only one criterion: does it work – have I actually seen it work before.
I was interested primarily in patients who suffered from conditions that could solidly be diagnosed as illnesses, as opposed to “existential problems of living” – not that those kinds of problems do not deserve psychotherapeutic treatment, but I usually referred them to therapists who were psychologists and social workers. Many effective medication treatments became available when I practiced, and the book is a compendium of the proper use of these medications plus effective psychotherapies such as cognitive and behavioral treatments.
However, you can see my philosophical roots in the diagnostic aspect of the book. My diagnoses are heavily weighted toward the characteristic subjective experiences of these illnesses. I spent a great deal of effort refining descriptions of the inner experience of every major mental illness and would repeatedly test them on patients, until, at the end of my career, many patients would tell me that I was the only person who had ever truly understood how they felt. Mental illness is outside of normal experience, and if you have not been afflicted with a particular disorder yourself, it is impossible to empathize with it. You have to learn from many patients who are suffering from these conditions before you can understand how these patients really feel. I have tried to put the specific suffering of each illness into words and metaphors that can be easily understood for the benefit of the friends and family members of these patients, but also patients themselves so they can know that others share their suffering. After reading this short book, you will have a firm grasp of what mental illness is and how it is treated.
Books Shown on the Cover:
* Counsels and Ideals & Selected Aphorisms by William Osler
* The Practice of Behavior Therapy by Joseph Wolpe
* Cognitive Therapy of Depression by Aaron Beck, John Rush, Brian Shaw, Gary Emery
* Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book
* Textbook of Psychopharmacology by Alan Schatzberg and Charles Nemeroff
* Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry by Benjamin Sadock and Virginia Sadock
* A Treatise on Insanity by Phillippe Pinel,
* The Idea of Phenomenology by Edmund Husserl
* Basic Writings by Sigmund Freud
* The Origin of Species & The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin