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Book Reviews
May 2002

New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry, vols 1 and 2

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59(5):476-477. doi:

Creating a textbook of general psychiatry at the beginning of the 21st century requires many tough choices. First, identifying the intended audience—medical students, residents, members of the profession, or others. Second, is the book to be written by one person or a small group with a single voice and "philosophy," or by many different experts, sacrificing coherence and a consistent perspective for subspecialty excellence? Third, what are the appropriate boundaries of contemporary psychiatry? There may be agreement at the core, but should a psychiatry text include molecular genetics, neuroimaging, basic statistics, health economics, hospital administration? Related to this, many areas of psychiatry are defined and described in accordance with conventions that vary from country to country and region to region. Should the text use DSM-IV, ICD-10, both, or neither? Is the discussion of treatment by a shaman to be classified as a standard therapy or a cultural variant? What about psychoanalysis, or electroconvulsive therapy, or behavior therapy for homosexuality? Fourth, how should the book be organized? Is the management of the suicidally depressed child best discussed under the topics of child psychiatry, mood disorder, treatment, suicide, emergency psychiatry, or all of the above? How does one guide the reader, and, for that matter, the authors, through such a maze? Finally, what is to distinguish this text from others; what is its special flavor or unique contribution?

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