Review of: Richter, D., Tanner, J. M., Lord Taylor and Zangwili, 0. L. (Editors). Aspects of Psychiatric Research. London, 1962. Oxford University Press. Pp. x + 445. Price 63s.
Eugenic Review, April 1963, 55(1), pp. 38–39.
This book on research into the causes and treatment of mental illnesses had its origin in discussions held in the Research Committee of the Mental Health Research Fund; it is intended chiefly as a review of progress in psychiatry during the past ten years. The first chapter by Sir Geoffrey Vickers provides a historical background and a cultural setting for the chapters which follow, the theme being continued in a lucid review by Lord Taylor of mental health in its relations with public and Parliament. The third chapter by Dr. E. H. Hare rounds off the social aspects with a report on the distribution of mental illness in the community.
The seventeen articles which follow are all by men whose own research contributions are well known, and deal with the aspects of psychiatry in which developments have been most rapid during recent years. The scientific roots of psychiatry are covered by chapters on chromosome abnormalities (Polani), biochemical errors (Harris), genetics (Kay) and brain chemistry (Vogt). At the opposite boundary, psychoanalysis and psychodynamics are given their place in chapters by Dr. Freeman and Dr. Bowlby.
The present reviewer found much that was of great interest. The clinician is always hoping for the breakthrough just round the corner, and may hail it before it has arrived. Critical and informative reviews, such as those on the EEG and on electrolytes, enforce a sense of proportion. It is indeed the psychiatric clinician who will derive the greatest benefit from this sparkling group of essays. But all those who are unaware of what the central problems of psychiatry are, or of the progress that is now being made, would derive enjoyment and profit from reading it.