Friday, 20 April 2012

Book reviews

American Madness:
The Rise And Fall Of Dementia Praecox
By Richard Noll. Harvard University Press 2012

Meaty and academic, though fascinating, book about the appearance and disappearance of Dementia Praecox. In 1895 there was not a single case in America, by 1912 there were thou- sands of people with the diagnosis locked up in asylums, hospitals and jails. By 1927 it was fading away.
‘Noll shows the co-dependency between a disease and the scientific status of the profession that treats it. The ghost of demen- tia praecox haunts today’s debates about the latest generation of psychiatric disorders’.

The Locked Ward:
Memoirs Of A Psychiatric Orderly
By Dennis O’Donnell. Jonathan Cape 12.99

Dennis O’Donnell was an orderly for seven years in the Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit of a large hospital from 2000. AS well as encountering ‘fear, violence and despair’ he also encountered a lot of care and compassion.
He goes into detail about life behind the doors of ‘ the most feared and stigmatized environments in healthcare’. He looks at all the major mental disorders and how triggers such as religion, sex, wealth and drugs bear influence, and look at treatment and the role of the families involved. ‘What emerges is a document of humanity and humour, a remarkable memoir that sheds light on a world that still remains largely unknown. Review in next issue

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