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A historical dictionary of psychiatry
  1. C Gardner-Thorpe

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    Edited by Edward Shorter. Oxford: Published by Oxford University Press, 2005, £30.50 (hardcover), pp 338. ISBN 0-19-517668-5

    Edward Shorter is Professor of History of Medicine at the University of Toronto and this 338 page volume is claimed to be the first “Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry”. As always in alphabetical order, discovery of individual entries is easy and an index takes us to words embedded in the text, more in encyclopaedia fashion.

    Neurology without physical signs? The neurologist may still feel this is adequate definition of psychiatry, particularly nowadays with so many publications that bring together works in the fields of neurology, psychology, and psychiatry (take, for example, Adam Zeman’s Consciousness, a User’s Guide). Thus Gestalt merits its long entry and the wholeness of this book is enhanced by a guide to pronunciation of difficult names that is embedded in the text and thus for example, helpfully, we are given HO-ka for Alfred Erich Hoche. This is a sort of bibliographic essay that guides the writer and is a standard work the writer should have at his side. Several individuals in the Menninger family are grouped together and give us insight into the medical achievements of father and sons. Neurologists will not be surprised to find Jung and Kraepelin, and happily also stumble upon James Parkinson, Charcot, and Wernicke, each wearing his psychiatry hat. The electrical circuitry that binds our specialties includes an entry on Hitzig. Lest all this history become too much, the entries on anxiety and phobias cover a substantial seven pages. This volume will assist neurologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in their quest for learning; medical authors should find it very handy indeed.