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Edited by Michael Trimble and Bettina Schmitz. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002, £39.95, pp 337. ISBN 0-521-81374-3
Various reviews on links between epilepsy and neuropsychiatry are to be found in this book. One of the aims of the editors was to enliven the debate about these links, focusing on their biological and psychosocial mechanisms. The book is divided into sections (eg three chapters on cognitive aspects) and there is excellent cross referencing between different chapters. The editors were right to include a section on non-epileptic attacks, although I was disappointed that all three chapters in this section were almost completely theory based.
There has been no attempt to stamp a housestyle on the various chapters. The reader will find one chapter presenting a thorough disinterested review of the literature, another where the authors have done little more than present their own results, followed by another where the focus is on presenting an explanatory model of symptom formation. Some might criticise this assorted approach, but the result is a book that entertains and educates. Several of the authors are from continental Europe. This perhaps explains why psychodynamic interpretations and treatments are given a high profile. It is fascinating to observe the different approach to neuropsychiatry practised by some of our continental colleagues.
This is not a handbook; practitioners looking for clinical guidance on how to manage their patients will have to carefully select the chapters with a hands on approach. They will find two of the chapters in the treatment sections, written by the editors of the book, on the behavioural consequences of anticonvulsants and the use of psychotropics in epilepsy particularly useful. Other chapters I would select for commendation are on the post-ictal psychoses, dementia and epilepsy, and subtle cognitive effects of epilepsy. All in all a rich collection of papers and a valuable, rather unique book.
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