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Book Review   |    
Assessment of Neuropsychological Functions in Psychiatric Disorders
Susan Mascoop, Ed.D.
Psychiatric Services 2000; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.51.7.940
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edited by Avraham Calev, D.Phil.; Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Press, 1999, 508 pages, $72.95

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The field of neuropsychology has been expanding rapidly in recent years, and the proliferation of research and publications has contributed to a greatly improved understanding of diagnosis and treatment in a broad range of disorders such as head trauma, stroke, neurological disorders, and learning and other developmental disabilities.

Despite this activity, the need for a single volume devoted to the neuropsychological assessment of mental illness has largely gone unfilled. Assessment of Neuropsychological Functions in Psychiatric Disorders clearly addresses this need. The volume's editor, Avraham Calev, D.Phil., a well-known researcher and clinician in the areas of assessment and treatment of schizophrenia and major affective disorders, has brought together researchers and clinicians who are experts in their respective fields to address the neuropsychological assessment of a wide range of psychiatric disorders.

Topics covered include the neuropsychology of schizophrenia, mood disorders, personality disorders, childhood mental disorders, dementias, substance abuse, and chronic medical illnesses. In each chapter the current research as well as the current understanding of that research is presented and integrated with findings from neurology, neuroimaging, and psychopharmacology. The authors have undertaken the difficult tasks of balancing complex and often contradictory findings and presenting the material in a manner that is both readable and useful. For example, the chapter on the neuropsychology of schizophrenia and related disorders not only outlines the classic symptoms and neuropsychological findings in these disorders but also addresses the complex issues of etiology and discusses the meaning of the myriad reported dysfunctions and their possible clinical correlation with neuroimaging studies. Psychopharmacology and symptom management are also given considerable coverage.

Although all chapters achieve the goal of providing well-organized, useful, and current information on their respective topics, two chapters deserve special mention. The chapter on neuropsychology of childhood mental disorders by DeCaria and colleagues provides a comprehensive, clear, and detailed discussion of the assessment and diagnosis of childhood disorders ranging from learning and developmental disabilities to obsessive-compulsive disorder. The chapter on the neuropsychological management, treatment, and rehabilitation of psychiatric patients by Jaeger and Berns provides an excellent discussion and summary of this often overlooked aspect of psychiatric treatment.

The latter authors point out, quite correctly, that functional disability persists long after the psychiatric symptoms have diminished and that it is patients' functional capacity that ultimately determines their ability to reenter the community and the workforce. With the current emphasis of treatment seemingly restricted to symptom and medication management, minimal attention has been given to integrating neuropsychological findings in both the diagnosis and long-term treatment and support of patients with chronic mental illness. Specific ways in which neuropsychology can inform diagnostic and rehabilitation considerations are discussed.

Assessment of Neuropsychological Functions in Psychiatric Disorders is a unique volume that integrates useful material on topics that are generally not addressed or are confined to a single chapter in other neuropsychology texts. This text should be of most value to neuropsychology practitioners and graduate students. Other professionals interested in the neuropsychology of mental disorders may find this volume useful as well.

Dr. Mascoop is a neuropsychologist at Medfield (Mass.) State Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.




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