Schizophrenia is one of the most devastating and mysterious mental illnesses. People with schizophrenia have the unique sensation that their brain is being taken over by external entities and that their heads are filled with voices that are not their own. Although it is increasingly recognized as a biological illness of the brain, it also has profound psychological implications for how we perceive reality.
The Madness Within Us: Schizophrenia as a Neuronal Process is an illuminating discussion of these two aspects of the illness. Dr. Robert Freedman, who is both a neuroscientist and a practicing clinical psychiatrist, outlines the emerging understanding of shizophrenia as a neurobiological illness and shows how these new insights can be used as a bridge to the psychological understanding of the delusions and hallucinations. He combines the findings of modern brain science with insights from the clinical practitioner's empathic listening to patients as they describe their problems.
Reviewer:Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A.(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description:A prominent schizophrenia researcher attempts to explain how the clinical manifestations of this devastating disease result from sensory gating defects (the author's main area of study) in this informative book on the neuroscience of schizophrenia. Although I believe there are significant problems with sensory gating defects as a primary or single mechanism for the production of psychotic symptoms, the author is superbly able to provide understandable explanations of complex neurophysiological concepts to lay readers.
Purpose:According to the author, this is an "attempt to bridge the gap between understanding of schizophrenia as a problem in the activity of nerve cells and the human experience of having schizophrenia." The author acknowledges that the goal is not to present "a definitive solution, because one does yet exist, but rather to tell what we have learned.
Audience:The targeted audience includes "future generations of medical and graduate students and other interested people...including families and individuals who are dealing with mental illness.
Features:The book covers the mind-brain dichotomy, the clinical features of schizophrenia, sensory gating deficits, genetic contributions to sensory gating, how abnormal convictions stem from sensory gating deficits, the treatment of schizophrenia, theories of schizophrenia beyond dopamine theory, talking to individuals with schizophrenia, and the developmental course of the illness. Since this book is primarily for the public, there is not an extensive reference list in the notes section.
Assessment:Anyone who reads this instructive book on the neurobiology of schizophrenia will become more informed about this serious and complex illness.