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Edited by M David Enoch and Hadrian N Ball (Pp 260, £25.00). Published by Arnold Publishers, London, 2001. ISBN 0-340-76388-4
This is the fourth edition of a book first published in 1967, which at that time was what can only be referred to as a classic. Then, David Enoch’s coauthor was the late Bill Trethowan, whose own descriptive thrills formed an essential part of the original text.
The syndromes described here, of Capgras, De Clerambault, Othello, Ganser, Munchausen, Gilles de la Tourette, Cotard, and Ekbom, and additional disorders such as the Couvade syndrome and possession states, resemble those contained in the original text. Psychiatry, a discipline that tends in comparison with neurology to have a dearth of eponymous syndromes, was considerably enriched by that text, as was the repertoire of any examiner for the MRCPsych.
The text has a common layout for each syndrome, with a historical background (always the most interesting) and case reports followed by epidemiology, clinical features, aetiology, and psychopathology. Some of the syndromes (if reference to the dating of the literature is noted) have attracted little clinical or research attention over time. However, there has been considerable publicity surrounding the De Clerambault’s syndrome and its related stalking, and the Munchausen syndrome with its by proxy variant.
Of all the syndromes, the Gilles de la Tourette syndrome has been the most extensively investigated from a neuroscience point of view, and some of the more up to date literature is included here.
Buried within the text are other interesting descriptions. These include the rarely discussed gaslight phenomenon, the Poltergeist phenomenon, and multiple folie syndromes from a deux to plusiers.
This well established book in the psychiatric cannon is fun to read, but should be on the shelves of all psychiatrists and related mental health workers who enjoy the variety of clinical practice that psychiatry embraces. This reviewer makes a plea for the Gastaut-Geschwind syndrome to be included in any future editions.
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