What a peculiar little book. I happened to be browsing through the stacks at the local public library, and came across it. The title caught my eye, and then I saw it was authored by a psychiatrist with whose work I am familiar in the area of catatonia. I did not expect to find a book on this topic written by a well-known professor of psychiatry tucked away amongst the more popular titles.
My confusion only grew when I actually read the book today, as I cannot figure out who the possible intended audience can possibly be. The beginnning chapters are like Electroconvulsive Therapy 101, as if written for someone who finds the entire subject unfamiliar and wants to know details down to how inpatients are asked to not eat anything the night before treatment, take their meds with a sip of water, empty their bladders, and wear a hospital gown. The amount of basic procedural detail would be too simplistic for most medical students, and yet I can’t imagine a layperson interested in ECT would want to read it, either.
After that, the book is broken down into chapters on the which types of patients- dianosed with which disorders- the author has seen benefit from ECT. This part was what had actually made me decide actually check out the book in the first place, since it had a lot of case histories. However, in contrast to the first part, the case histories were written in a very terse academic medical style, which was great for me, but which I really don’t think most readers at the Albuquerque Public Library are going to wade through.
Finally, he tacks on some chapters having to do with the history of ECT, the antipscyhiatry movement, and the current state of ECT in the US as of his date of writing (in 1999)- which states restrict its use, what the restrictions are, where they were at in terms of funding and research and public perception. This part was probably as much of historical value as anything else, particularly the funding & research sections.
The defensive tone with which he discusses the anti-psychiatry movement and misperceptions of ECT by the media and public are justified, as these issues continue today, but really didn’t flow with the rest of the book at all.
Anyway, it was an odd little book, lost on the shelves of the San Pedro branch library, probably never checked out since it was donated by some psychiatrist going into retirement. I don’t necessarily not recommend it, but yet, I would have no idea exactly to whom I should recommend it. Weird.