Outstanding Academic Titles 2023: Mental Health

Enjoy these five selections from the Choice Reviews 2023 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we highlight, Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year pertaining to Mental Health. A hearty congratulations to the winning authors, editors and publishers!

1. From the abyss of loneliness to the bliss of solitude: cultural, social and psychoanalytic perspectives
ed. by Aleksandar Dimitrijević and Michael B. Buchholz Phoenix Publishing House, 2022

Dimitrijević (International Psychoanalytic Univ.) and Buchholz (formerly, International Psychoanalytic Univ.) present a work that is both necessary and deeply engaging. Their recurring theme is to draw the distinction between loneliness, which can lead to despair, and solitude, which is essential for creativity, flow, and rejuvenation. Chapter 6, an enlightening discourse on the role of solitude and loneliness in creativity, perhaps best expresses this dichotomy. Chapter 7 points out that solitude is voluntary, sought after, and often positive, whereas loneliness is involuntary and aversive. Yet even the term loneliness is further dissected from various perspectives (e.g., chapters 15, 16). Topics covered include child, adolescent, and adult development; music, art therapy, stress, health, and mortality; and even recent research on isolation during the pandemic. Part 4 presents loneliness from the psychoanalytic perspective, delivering frank and powerful clinical accounts of trauma, loneliness, and isolation that provide valuable insight. Though common themes run throughout and there is much agreement across all chapters and authors, each chapter nevertheless offers a unique contribution to the volume. This timely and accessible work is highly recommended for students of psychology, seasoned practitioners, or just curious readers trying to make sense of the paradoxes of modern life. View on Amazon

2. The Cambridge handbook of stigma and mental health
ed. by David L. Vogel and Nathaniel G. Wade Cambridge, 2022

Vogel and Wade (both, Iowa State Univ.) introduce this large four-part volume by arguing the need for valid and reliable measures of stigma in the mental health context and the limitations of research to date. Intersectionality is a common theme throughout, considering multiple cross-cutting identities (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, culture) to gain an accurate understanding of experienced stigma. Chapters 4 (“Measurement of Mental Illness Stigma and Discrimination”) and 10 (“The Intersection of Mental Health Stigma and Marginalized Identities”) are key contributions. Part 3 examines particular contexts. For example, chapter 11 highlights the struggles of ethnic minority individuals in attempting to access mental health care due to public, self-, and even within-group stigma. Chapter 12 examines mental health in LGBTQ+ populations, which face public stigma involving stereotypes related to their identity in addition to those associated with mental health issues. Chapters in part 4 examine evidence-based interventions for combating stigma and creating change. An important feature of this part is the focus on clinicians and their responsibility to make practice inclusive, and to work against historical stigma within clinical psychology. This book would be an especially welcome addition to university libraries supporting programs in clinical psychology, but is also relevant for other fields of study, such as public policy and sociology. View on Amazon

3. Cry, baby: why our tears matter
Perry, Benjamin. Broadleaf Books, 2023

This book provides a compelling explanation of the value of tears as a needed expression of emotion for personal and societal transformation. Community educator, activist, and minister Perry crafts a selective multidisciplinary survey of weeping, woven with his own lived experience of learning to embrace tears as an embodiment of emotion and a fundamental aspect of individual and collective well-being. Depicting himself as an “evangelist for crying,” Perry recounts his decision to learn the art of shedding tears. Opening chapters explore the physiological basis for crying. Perry summarizes key works in chapter 2, beginning with Darwin’s The Emotional Expression of Man and Animals and tracing selected studies through the present. Readers will benefit from the cited science of this chapter, as well as the breadth of disciplines and their treatment of grief covered in subsequent chapters. Considerations of race, gender, class, and sexuality figure strongly in Perry’s exploration. While he cites numerous causes of modern ills that engender tears, and that push some to suppress them, he also includes numerous stories and citations of personal experiences where the expression of tears transformed both the one crying and those observing the crier. “Cry like your tears matter, because they do,” Perry advises, concluding a book that makes the case well. View on Amazon

4. The couch, the clinic, and the scanner: stories from three revolutionary eras of the mind
Hellerstein, David. Columbia, 2023

Hellerstein (Columbia Univ.) tells a thrilling story of the paradigm shifts that have swept the field of psychiatry over the last 50 years. His account is conveyed through personal stories; essays capturing his own stages of development as a psychiatrist, from investment in Freudian psychoanalysis to the embrace of clinical diagnosis; and finally arriving at neuroscientific description of brain function. Together, Hellerstein’s 14 chapters offer a roadmap of suffering in different milieus, from lying on a couch to motionlessness in an MRI tube. The tone, nevertheless, is one of optimism, as the advancement of science drives the practice of healing. The author superbly shows how each of the three models presented engages a unique set of explanations—and treatments—for psychological distress. In closing, Hellerstein suggests the possible appearance of a fourth wave: psychedelic medicine, combining elements of the three preceeding paradigms. This author is at his best when offering narratives of treatment and its outcome, affording glimpses into the lives of patients and the struggles of their healers. The book will have immense appeal for those considering the medical profession and for contemporary practitioners, and somewhat less but still significant appeal for anyone interested in the history of psychiatric science, as well as professionals in adjacent fields, e.g., social work and psychology. View on Amazon.

5Breaking point: the ironic evolution of psychiatry in World War II Greene, Rebecca Schwartz. Fordham, 2023

In this account, Greene (Seton Hall Univ.) traces the long history of psychiatry’s American evolution in the course of the Second World War. She has done a commendable job, pulling together published and unpublished material, including first-person accounts and personal interviews. The Selective Training and Service Act signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 included a requirement for inductees to undergo psychiatric interviews, which screened out over two million potential recruits, and psychiatrists belatedly focused on the diagnosis and treatment of those who entered service with mental health issues. Ironically, psychiatrists overlooked PTSD and other combat-related disorders not identified by the screenings. The moral and ethical issues that often accompanied “neuropsychiatric casualties” were treated, albeit unevenly because of the scarcity of psychiatrists and their lack of adequate training. Collaboration with psychologists—and the lack of it—is well described, as is the impact of the way psychiatrists were portrayed in the contemporary media. Of special interest are Greene’s descriptions of hypnosis-based psychotherapy in combat zones and the reluctance of military personnel to request any type of help, a proclivity that exists to this day. This author has undertaken a painstaking and groundbreaking research process, producing an “instant classic,” but one that will be read and cited for decades to come. View on Amazon.

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