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Schizophrenia in children and adolescents

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    Schizophrenia in children and adolescents. Edited by helmut remschmidt (Pp 924, £39.95). Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000. ISBN 0 521 79428 5.

    There are few psychiatric conditions as devastating as childhood schizophrenia. Case descriptions became available soon after schizophrenia was first recognised as an entity but a childhood onset is fortunately rare. Early samples probably included children with autistic spectrum disorders as these were only recognised in the 1940s. In spite of shared deficits there are important clinical differences between autism and childhood schizophrenia. The wealth of research into autism has not been matched in the field of childhood schizophrenia, perhaps because of its rarity but also because clinicians can draw on the findings on adult disorders. This book is written by experts in the field and helpfully describes current thinking and knowledge in childhood schizophrenia. It includes a chapter on historical aspects, and specially useful for clinicians, developmentally informed guidelines on differential diagnosis and management. There is a full discussion on the use of traditional and newer anti-psychotic medication.

    Authors make well the case for the similarities between childhood and adult schizophrenia, they document the empirical evidence indicating increased pre-morbid developmental and personality anomalies, perhaps a stronger genetic vulnerability and worse outcome with a childhood onset. Research findings are detailed on information processing deficits and on anomalies of thought processes comparable to those seen in adult patients. The important on-going research by the National Institute of Mental Health is referenced. Outstanding areas for future research are identified. This should attempt a better description of pre-morbid developmental and behavioural anomalies currently subsumed under a bewildering array of overlapping syndromes and their differentiation from those seen in autism.

    This book represents a welcome update on research and clinical thinking in childhood schizophrenia and will be useful to clinicians.

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