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Edited by Michael Gelder, Richard Mayou, John Geddes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005, £24.95 (softcover), pp 333. ISBN 0-19-852863-9
The Oxford Handbook of Psychiatry is a wonderful little book. The “little” applies to its size and not its stature, as it is actually over 900 pages long and packed with a wealth of useful and interesting information. There has clearly been a tremendous amount of effort put into its production including the piloting of various versions with local SHOs. Although it is aimed primarily at the SHO, it would be a useful book for psychiatrists of all levels because it is so comprehensive. It provides discrete chapters for each type of psychiatric disorder, which contain key facts about the illness with a focus on management, both immediate and long term. These are preceded by several chapters on assessment and followed by a number of chapters devoted to specific considerations such as ethics and the law, how to deal with unusual situations, and therapeutics in specific circumstances such as pregnancy and co-morbid medical conditions. If that is not all, there are chapters devoted to the various types of psychotherapy and evidence-based psychiatry and there are lists of useful contact addresses and websites, ICD10/DSMIV diagnostic codes, mental health act section codes, reference ranges for common blood and urine tests, and readily accessible instructions for rapid tranquillisation. Interspersed within this information are a number of “extras” in pink shaded boxes that add richness to the text and provide very enjoyable reading. Examples include a Shakespeare sonnet on death, a list of past and present famous people with an affective disorder, quotes from Kraepelin, and the story of Oedipus.
Another recent psychiatry publication from Oxford Press is the third edition of Psychiatry. This is an update of the well regarded text for medical undergraduates, GPs, and those requiring a general knowledge of psychiatry. The information is very well laid out in easily digestible sections. There are also more highlighted lists and tables than previous editions that serve to emphasise important information or provide ready reference to aspects of assessment and management. This improved version is highly recommended to the non-specialist.