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Book Reviews   |    
Family Interventions in Family Illness: International Perspectives
Reviewed by William Vogel, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2002; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.53.8.1037
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edited by Harriet P. Lefley and Dale L. Johnson; Westport, Connecticut, Praeger, 2002, 247 pages, $69

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This scholarly book is a much-needed work in the field of family mental health. The editors of Family Interventions in Family Illness are both eminent scholars with extensive backgrounds in cross-cultural psychology and psychiatry. In this book they focus on "therapeutic interventions for families of adults with major mental illnesses in various countries throughout the world," especially "on persons with severe psychiatric syndromes such as schizophrenia and major affective disorders."

The 13 chapters are written by authors working in various countries—the United States, Sweden, Austria, India, China, Japan, the Netherlands, and others—and with various cultural groups within those countries. Thus, for example, we get a chapter on work with various Hispanic groups in the United States.

The book highlights the vast differences in approaches to work with families from country to country. For example, "Japanese psychiatric services are typically hospital based," whereas in China, "it is impossible for the public purse to provide the care and welfare that families do," and hence "the Chinese constitution of 1981 makes it mandatory for children to care for their elderly parents." In India, "barriers exist to…programs of [behaviorally based] family work. Prominent…barriers are the biomedical model and expectations of care only from medication-oriented approaches." In Great Britain, "biological modes…are seen as most important, with psychological approaches being seen as secondary or optional. Staff frequently comment that if family work is not affected, there are no adverse consequences."

Nevertheless, in all the societies surveyed, behavioral-based treatment interventions do exist, tailored to the need of various cultures. The book discusses the various approaches and the treatment efficacies of each.

The book is a must-read for anyone in the mental health field.

Dr. Vogel is affiliated with the department of psychiatry at UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, Massachusetts.




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