On the Shoulders of Giants: Biographical Notes in Psychiatry and Psychology

By | April 25, 2019

On the Shoulders of Giants: Biographical Notes in Psychiatry and Psychology



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Psychiatry will lose some of its lustre, probably already slowly fading, when the names too disappear. We shall then speak only of such things as ‘Acute polymorphic psychotic disorder without symptoms of schizophrenia’ and ‘Induced delusional disorder’ and no longer have in our vocabulary such things as Capgras syndrome, McNaghten’s rules and Schneider’s criteria. This book should help remind us of some of the greats that we too are at risk of forgetting. Unlike Alzheimer, of course.

It’s also good to have a book, for a change, where you can read in a spare moment a page chosen at random and still get a self-contained nugget of interesting information. For example, that Gilles de la Tourette was not the first to describe the condition that bears his name. Or that the man who developed the stretch test for sciatic nerve injury could also have described persecution mania and anorexia nervosa and coined the term exhibitionism.

Further reminders of the death of versatility in today’s world is provided on discovering that the Charcot we associate with hysteria and hypnosis was the same Charcot as found in Charcot’s joints and Charcot’s syndrome.

This book is a wonderful repository of vignettes that unenlightened folks consider totally useless.

Diyanath Samarasinghe

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