Into the Abyss: A Neuropsychiatrist’s Notes on Troubled Minds

Oneworld. Mar. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781786077059. $24.95. PSYCH
Cognitive neuropsychiatrist David (director, Inst. of Mental Health, Univ. Coll. London) elegantly describes case studies from his decades-long career that illustrate the complex tangle of biological, psychological, and social factors influencing mental health. Exploring his own ideas on the subject while simultaneously breaking down key medical concepts into accessible language, David creates a work that reads like a memoir. The cases are distinct, the diagnoses elusive, and the personality of each patient comes through with warmth and care. The author doesn’t gloss over the reality that sometimes there are no definitive answers or perfectly happy endings, but he maintains a spark of hope that keeps the narrative from becoming bleak.
VERDICT Readers seeking a realistic approach to understanding the potential causes of mental illness will appreciate David’s thought-provoking reflections, as will mental health professionals and fans of Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
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