The Encyclopedia of Mental Health by Ada P Kahn, MPH, and Jan Fawcett, MD, Facts on File, Inc., New York. 1993, 464 Pages.
by Del Meyer, MD
When the above volume
reached my desk, I was considering which of my psychiatric friends I could ask
to review the volume. Over the past
few weeks, I’ve had a chance to refer to it a number of times and have been
pleasantly surprised as to how often it has given me basic information.
The Chicago authors, Ada Kahn, MPH, a science writer and communications
consultant, and Jan Fawcett, MD, (Yale/Langley Porter) Director of the Rush
Institute for Well Being and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, have written a compendium of
facts to help people understand why they behave as they do in order to gain
insight into their actions, thus possibly achieving better mental health either
on their own or with professional help. Since
the authors use common terms that patients can understand, they recommend that
physicians in primary care make copies of entries and hand them to patients.
It would appear that the patient's family in most instances would benefit
more from the information and better understand the patient’s behavior or
It provides the
psychiatric patient with definitions to basic terms and explains the basic
differences between a psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.
It serves as a quick reference guide when seeing Social Security patients
on disability who also have such things as agoraphobia, acrophobia and
heterophobia. It was also
interesting to note that the psychodynamics of such items as Music Therapy,
which I last saw during my senior medical student rotation at Menninger, are
still poorly understood. The
definition of “calling cards,” was a new one, as was “angry woman
syndrome.” I hadn’t realized that I had some “Idiot Savants” in my
Most of the
psychiatric drugs are also covered, providing a quick overview.
Buspirone was covered in its usual anxiolytic fashion.
Vernon M. Neppe, MD, PhD, Director of the Pacific Neuropsychiatric
Institute in Seattle, who gave a very erudite lecture in this community
recently, feels that BuSpar is the first specific drug for agitation,
restlessness, and irritability, which has not yet received FDA approval.
Neither has it been approved for prison inmates’ drinking water.
The Encyclopedia has
an appendix listing the addresses and phone numbers of organizations that may
provide support to our patients’ families.
The Obesity Foundation caught my eye.
Maybe I can give that address and phone number to my Pickwickian
patients. They all need to lose 100
pounds or more. There is a 20-page index that appears to be well
cross-referenced so that any topic covered can easily be found.
There also is a 44-page bibliography for those who want to look up
references on aging, Alzheimer’s, child abuse, fatigue syndrome, grief,
self-esteem, and a host of other entries.
Kahn, a Fellow of the
American Medical Writers Assn, is also co-author of the Encyclopedia of
Phobias, Fears and Anxieties, The A-Z of Women’s Sexuality, and Mid-Life
Health: A Woman’s Practical Guide to Feeling Good.
Fawcett is editor of Psychiatric Annals and president of the Psychiatric
This volume would
seem to fill the need for those physicians who have an interest in helping
patients understand some emotional aspects of their disease, as well as the
families who cope with these patients. Photostatted
entries could also be recommended to a number of patients and probably their
families for the same reason. A
copy can be obtained from Facts On File Books at 1-800-322-8755.