The Oxford Textbook of Neuropsychiatry
Posted in Book Reviews on 22nd Sep 2021
Edited by: Niruj Agrawal, Rafey Faruqui, and Mayur Bodani.
Published by: OUP Oxford
Reviewed by: Dr Remi Guillochon, ST4 Old Age Psychiatry, Moorgreen Hospital, Botley Road, Southampton, UK
The Oxford Textbook of Neuropsychiatry is divided into four main parts, and further subdivided into 49 chapters. These start with the subject’s foundations, and then go through a broad range of topics with increasing depth and detail. As with many textbooks, a cover-to-cover read (as undertaken by your diligent reviewer) brings its rewards, but the ‘dipping into’ approach, at leisure or at need, is also rewarding, thanks to the assortment of facts and concise ‘takeaway’ points provided in summary boxes.
The book has two target audiences – the neuropsychiatry chapters with a neurological focus are aimed at Psychiatrists, while the chapters with a psychiatric focus are likely to be more appealing to Neurologists. In all, the chapters range from neuroanatomical, nosological, to medico-legal applications, and rather interestingly, the different ways that a neuropsychiatric service can be set up. This latter chapter is drawn from various practitioners’ experiences in different countries across four continents. Perhaps the most compelling chapters were those with a research focus, such as proteomics and metabolomics, offering a window into how treatments might be transformed over the next generation.
One advantage of this textbook is its aggregation, in a single tome, of a number of different subjects with a neuropsychiatric focus. It has an authoritative answer for many questions and queries that might otherwise lead to a series of unsatisfying or frustrating PubMed (or Wikipedia!) searches. Examples include the sections on apathy, delirium, catatonia, metabolic disorders and rarer cognitive disorders, to name just a few. This edition has done all the work or, rather, the whole gamut of its contributing experts have done so.
There are some golden nuggets of information; just the sort of thing you’ve been asked about by an inquisitive patient, or even puzzled over yourself, and struggled to find the answer. This applies as much to the big issues, such as the various symptomatologies of neurocognitive disorders to more discrete areas such as the pathophysiology of an alcoholic blackout (on page 324).
Moreover, reading this volume may even challenge your own practice. Certainly, the revelation to me that the lifetime prevalence of somnambulism is 30% (page 350) means that it would be reasonable to consider this diagnosis more often than I have been (due to the assumption that sleep-walking was rare). Another eye-opener for me, was the apparent preponderance of amyloid angiopathy, over half of one sample population aged 59 -101 (Yamada et al., 1987 cited on page 86).
One choice line on page 374 brings to mind the nature of our work as clinical scientists – “It is often said that the essence of science is less about obtaining new facts than about discovering new ways of thinking about them.” In many ways, this is the essence of this very book: not only does it expound all that you need to know, and more, about neuropsychiatry but the nuanced explanations, pithy clinical scenarios and fitting illustrations engage and inspire you to think differently about this fascinating and challenging discipline.