It is now widely recognised that biological psychiatry is rapidly coming into its own. For over the last three decades dramatic advances in this young discipline have been made, all of which attest to the staying power of the experimental method. Those who made this revolution in knowledge happen are a breed of investigators availing themselves of the tools of molecular biology, pharmacology, genetics, and perhaps, above all, the technology of neuroimaging. The introduction of the interdisciplinary method of approach to the study of psychopathology had made it very clear that neuroimaging, as a set of techniques, is unique in that it is gradually providing us with evidence supporting Kraepelin's original view that mental illness is closely associated with abnormal changes in the brain. Broadly speaking, there are presently two structural techniques in neuroimaging - computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - and three functional techniques - single photon emission tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Through PET technology, for example, we have learned that, in early brain development, the primitive areas, mostly the brain stem and thalamus, are the first to show high activity in an infant. This is followed by the development of cortical areas by year one. Between the ages of four to 10, the cortex is almost twice as active in the child as in the adult. This information alerts us to what might happen in the way of trauma in abused children, especially those under the age of three. Child abuse increases the risk of physical changes, not only in the stress systems, but also in brain development (Glaser and Weissman). In addition to the difficult problem of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we have to take into account the possibility of other types of mental illness as the consequences of child abuse. These include depression, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol problems.

Table of Contents

Contents. List of Contributors. Preface (E.E. Bittar and N. Bittar). Consciousness (T.W. Picton and D.T. Stuss). Emotional Circuits of the Mammalian Brain: Implications for Biological Psychiatry (J. Panksepp). The Sexual Brain (W. Byne and E. Kemmether). The Biology of Personality (R.T. Mulder). The Biology of Aggression (P.F. Brain). Psychological Aspects of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity (E. Ur). Stress and the Immune System (C.M. Pariante and A.H. Miller). Fear and Anxiety Mechanisms of the Brain: Clinical Implications (J. Panksepp). Biological Aspects of Depression (B.E. Leonard). Psychobiology of Suicidal Behavior (K.M. Malone). Bipolar Disorder (J.C.Y. Chou and R. Cancro). The Biological Basis of Schizophrenia (P. Winn). Heterogeneity of Schizophrenia: Diagnostic and Etiological Approaches (M.T. Tsuang, M.J. Lyons, and R. Toomey). Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: General Principles (C.E. Kaplan and A. Thompson). Major Disorders in Child Psychiatry (C.E. Kaplan and A. Thompson). Child Sexual Abuse (M. Wiseman and D. Glaser). Hereditary and Acquired Mental Retardation (J. Stern). Autism (C. Gillberg). Personality Disorders (P. Tyrer and K. Evans). Alcoholism, Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence (D.H. Overstreet and A.B. Kampov-Polevoy). Homelessness and Mental Illness (J. Scott). Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa (D.S. Goldbloom). Antidepressant and Anxiolytic Drugs (S.C. Cheetham and D.J. Heal). Lithium Use in Clinical Practice (D.L. Dunner and J.J. Neumaier). Antipsychotic Drugs (B.K. Colasanti). Introduction to Electroconvulsive Therapy (A.P. Zis). Index.


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© 2000
Elsevier Science
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About the editor

Edward Bittar

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, USA