Review of "Concise Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry"
By Mina K. Dulcan, D. Richard Martini, and Marybeth Lake American Psychiatric Association, 2003 Review by Michael Sakuma, Ph.D. on Sep 24th 2004
I quite like
the concise guide series. This is the third that I have had the opportunity to
peruse, and I am never disappointed with the breadth of information that can be
held in such a tiny publication. The series offers an abridged, practical and
down-and-dirty description of their topic at hand, in this case, childhood
Adolescent Psychiatry covers the basics of evaluation medical/psychosocial) and
treatment planning, Axis I disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy,
childhood or adolescence (i.e. ADHD, conduct disorder, OPD, separation anxiety
disorder, Eating, Motor and Language disorders). The guide also describes Adult
disorders that may begin in childhood or adolescence (i.e. substance abuse,
schizophrenia, mood disorders, GID, and sleep disorders). Each topic has a
separate section on epidemiology, etiology, how it is evaluated and treated.
Developmental disorders such as retardation, autism and Asperger's disorder are
also covered as are special psychosocial stressors that might be relevant such as
divorce and abuse. There is a small appendix with resources for parents including
good internet sites and recommended books, broken down by disorder/topic.
A strength of
the book is that it has separate chapters for psychopharmacological treatment
and Psychosocial treatments; these are in addition to the treatment sections
for the specific disorders. The separate sections allow greater depth for these
treatments, and side effects/contraindications are pretty well discussed. I
should say that I was pleasantly surprised with the section on psychosocial
treatments. Being that this is a book geared for medically oriented-folk, I expected
much more of a pharmacological spin on suggested treatment. I suppose it isn't
a surprise that the section on psychopharmacological treatment contains more specific
and targeted information; but the section on psychosocial intervention, though
general, is ultimately accurate in coverage.
There are only
two reservations that I have for this book. First, there is little to no
mention of the controversies surrounding the assessment and treatment of
childhood psychopathology. Psychiatric disorders are difficult to diagnose in
children because of individual differences in developmental growth-speed. Some
theorists have argued that disorders such as bipolar, or ADHD, are
over-diagnosed in children and reflect a socially sanctioned sedation option
for frustrated and fatigued parents. The specific arguments notwithstanding, I
would have liked to see the different opinions laid out a bit more in this
book. Physicians need to be informed from all angles, especially in a debate
as important as this.
weakness that I see with this publication is the fact that there are sections
totally void of citation. Of course this would seem a natural consequence of
making such a large topic concise and able to fit in your back pocket, however,
after a factual statement is made in any context, good scientists are trained
to ponder the source of the information. Given that the road to understanding
and knowledge is paved with error and bias, it would seem to me that this is an
important consideration, especially in a guide jam-packed with "factual"
statements. To be fair, there were some references, but not enough to make me
go away feeling that I had perused a scholarly piece.
I recommend this book for people who want to carry something small around for
those times in line when you¹d like something useful to read, or as a basic
brush up for some of the basic concepts in child psychopathology. The book is
surprisingly wide in coverage for its size but ultimately it lacks the detail of
some of its larger competition.