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Book and Media Reviews
July 4, 2007

The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;298(1):96-101. doi:10.1001/jama.298.1.96

As all medical students learn on their pediatrics rotations, children and adolescents are not “little adults.” However, all too often the world of psychiatry addresses childhood disorders based on concepts generalized from adult psychiatric diagnoses and treatments. This has been especially true in the case of bipolar disorder. Until about 10 years ago, bipolar disorder was believed rare in children, not commonly occurring until late adolescence and early adulthood.

The first edition of The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood's Most Misunderstood Disorder (2002) was at the forefront of an explosion of professional and public interest in pediatric bipolar disorder, beginning at the close of the 20th century and continuing to this day.1,2 This book was instrumental in conveying the possibility to thousands of parents that their child might have bipolar disorder—many made their way to our clinic, literally clutching a copy of the book. Thus, it created a great service in helping unmask this hidden illness. However, some of the information regarding symptoms of bipolar disorder in children was misleading and potentially inaccurate, possibly leading to inaccurate diagnoses by parents and clinicians.