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Book and Media Reviews
September 12, 2007

Clinical Handbook of Psychiatry and the Law

Author Affiliations
 

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(10):1220-1225. doi:10.1001/jama.298.10.1224

The fourth edition of the Clinical Handbook of Psychiatry and the Law is the first version of the book to be written in the new millennium. It retains the acclaimed format of older editions while pointing toward the future of the interaction between these 2 disciplines.

Each chapter is divided into 7 sections. The first, “Case Examples,” consists of case summaries intended to frame the questions discussed in the chapter. These thought-provoking vignettes, which are written in entertaining prose, will benefit readers by raising difficult issues that clinicians are likely to face in practice. Next, in “Legal Issues,” the authors describe issues that review and highlight important legal cases and statues. This helps to convey the historical rationale for the law. It is followed by a “Clinical Issues” section, wherein the effects of abstract legal doctrines, as well as practical means of coping with them, are discussed. In the next section, “Pitfalls,” the authors then address issues that result from problems of mixed clinical and legal nature. This section is particularly important for its discussion of the psychological difficulties that may affect patient care. As the authors suggest, awareness of potential obstacles to providing good care can help clinicians avoid them.

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