Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 44, Issue 7, July 2015

Book Reviews

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Psychiatry: past, present and prospect

Sidney Bloch, Stephen A Green, Jeremy Holmes
Australia: Oxford University Press, 2014
ISBN 9780199638963

Psychiatry: past, present and prospect is not purported to be a straightforward book on psychiatry. The authors make it clear at the outset that this is not a textbook. Various doyens in the field set out to reflect on the development of psychiatry in their area of sub-specialty over the past 50 years or so. The broad and eclectic field of psychiatry is well represented here: psychiatric genetics, transcultural and social psychiatry, ethics of psychiatric detention, child psychiatry, psychogeriatrics, psychopharmacology and various psychotherapies to name a few.

The authors complement each another well and there is a nice flow to the chapters. A didactic treatise is not given; rather, the reader is invited to reminisce and reflect on the authors’ experience of the twists and turns of psychiatric progress, policy, personhood and paradigm shifts. The profession is held to harsh scrutiny and accountability, but its beauty and limitations are well explained. The reader is reassured their anxieties around psychiatry are not new as the ‘elders’ of psychiatry have experienced the same for many decades and will continue to do so.

I found this to be a fascinating book as a psychiatrist in clinical practice, both in terms of the current update of salient issues and a historical overview. How do you advance a field that is in so much flux and under tensions from within and externally? General practitioners without a background in psychiatric training may struggle in some areas, but the book challenges, fascinates and enlightens. I recommend this book for anyone interested in psychiatry, not just psychiatrists.

Dr Sivasankaran Balaratnasingam
Regional Psychiatrist, Kimberley Mental Health & Drug Service,
Broome, Western Australia
Associate Professor,
School of Psychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences,
University of Western Australia

Paediatric thyroidology

Gabor Szinnai, Editor
Basel: Karger, 2014
ISBN 9783318027204, $372.99

General practitioners (GPs) are frequently dealing with cases of paediatric thyroid disease. For example, congenital hypothyroidism is part of newborn screening, autoimmune thyroid conditions are increasingly common and thyroid nodules are frequently diagnosed on ultrasound. Paediatric thyroidology is a special edition in the ‘Endocrine development’ series dedicated to thyroid disease in children. The first monograph on this topic was published in 1985, and this edition is an update that reflects the enormous advances in every area of this field. Distinguished experts provide reviews on thyroid hormone physiology, congenital hypothyroidism, impaired sensitivity on thyroid hormones, thyroid and the environment, and thyroid cancer. In addition, there is a ‘Clinical case seminar’ with 21 cases.

The chapters in the book are well written, very comprehensive and offer a wealth of information. Figures, illustrations and tables complete the information. Areas to highlight include thyroid physiology, new advances in clinical genetics of congenital hypothyroidism that lead to changes in practice guidelines for newborn screening and information on iodine deficiency in children that is becoming increasingly common in Australia.

The case series provides examples for readers to put the theoretical information in a clinical perspective and is very instructive and enjoyable to read. This covers congenital hypothyroidism, syndromes that include thyroid disease, resistance to thyroid hormone, iodine, autoimmune thyroid diasease and thyroid tumours. The presentation of clinical scenarios and accompanying illustrations are excellent. Each case presentation is followed by key learning points that provide tools for clinical problem solving and key references.

This book successfully summarises advances in our knowlegde on paediatric thyroid disease. It is certainly very valuable for paediatricians and endocrinologists. Importantly it is not too specific and can be recommended for a wider readership. The information is presented in a way that allows the reader to chose their level of involvement. It provides excellent information for GPs to gain background knowledge on various aspects of thyroid disease from newborn age to adolescence. The clinical context is always present and illustrates the relevance of each topic for everyday practice.

Dr Aris Siafarikas
Endocrinology and Diabetes
Princess Margaret Hospital Subiaco,
Western Australia

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