Book Review: Understanding Troubled Minds
Bloch S, (2011) ‘Understanding Troubled Minds: A Guide to Mental Illness and its Treatment’, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Australia
This is a book that I had on my bookshelf for some time, but I was quite reluctant to read.
I had been given it as a gift, and I had flicked through it but I wasn't much impressed — it seemed like a book which was quite superficial and seem to advocate an approach which I wasn't particularly comfortable with, namely a cognitive and behavioural approach. So it sat on my bookshelf for more than a year.
When I started to read it I wished I had picked up years ago; in fact I wish I had known about it when I was doing my training. Although the book is written from the perspective of psychiatry and is meant for everyday reader, it gives invaluable information that will help every psychotherapist. In essence, it is a broad overview of mental illness and psychopharmacology. Each of its 21 chapters is devoted to a particular aspect of mental illness such as anxiety, mood and depression, mind and body, eating disorders, suicide and self-harm, psychiatric medication, personality disturbances, psychosis, and alcohol and drugs. It explains each one of these in clear language, gives examples and also makes comparisons between the different disorders. SANE Australia has named it as its 2012 Book of the Year.
Here's a brief quote from the book about obsessive personalities;
People with obsessive personalities are typically orderly, and punctual, dutiful and conformist to a degree that limits their capacity to respond to situations that call for flexibility or compromise. They display a rigid perfectionism that interferes with their ability to complete anything. Rarely do their achievements or those of others measure up to their required ideal standards. While obsessional qualities may be advantageous and socially desirable in particular circumstances, their moralising and inflexibility inevitably leads to difficulties. Their preoccupation with rules, procedures and social order overrides the pleasure of accomplishment or the company of others. They are often emotionally cold and judgment.(p140)
See? Concise, clear, informative and understandable.
Inevitably, Dr. Bloch’s recommendations for treatment tend towards the cognitive and behavioural, but he talks about the place of long-term psychotherapy as well — he just doesn't think it's that effective for many of the common disorders such as anxiety.
An informative and interesting book with basic and useful information about a wide range of psychological and psychiatric issues. Recommended.
I welcome your comments.
– Tim Hill
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