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Book Review   |    
Understanding Violence
Harold Carmel, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 1998; doi:
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by Elizabeth Kandel Englander; Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997, 187 pages, $45 hardcover, $19.95 softcover

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This is a well-intended, albeit imperfectly edited, attempt to produce a college-level textbook on violent crime. The book's title does not quite convey this aim. While emphasizing the need to see the forest for the trees, much of the book consists of individual descriptions of studies—the bibliography is 20 pages long, but not all cited studies can be found in it—with rare summaries of take-home conclusions. In some cases, well-accepted concepts are not presented—for example, on child abuse, that younger children are at higher risk for death than older ones; that adult males are more likely to kill; and that the most common cause of death is head injury.

Too much emphasis is given the author's idiosyncratic concept of "pan violence" to describe men violent both at home and in the street when the information presented suggests that the "pan violent" are a subset of street offenders who are also abusive at home.

The diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder is trivialized, and the relation between serious mental illness and violence is dismissed in three paragraphs.

There may well be a need for a good text on violent crime. This is not quite it.

Change of Address

Authorsof papers under peer review or being prepared for publication in Psychiatric Services are reminded to notify the editorial office of any changes in address. Please call the editorial office at 202-682-6070, or send updated information by fax to 202-682-6189 or by e-mail to psjournal@psych.org.

Dr. Carmel is director of medical affairs for the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services in Richmond. He is also associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia-Virginia Commonwealth University.




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