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Two New Books on Schizophrenia

E. Fuller Torrey M.D., Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D., and Susan Gingerich, M.S.W.

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers, third edition, by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.

Coping With Schizophrenia: A Guide for Families by Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D., and Susan Gingerich, M.S.W.

Veteran readers of the literature for lay persons about serious mental illness say that "more books are published every year" and that "the quality of many of them is excellent." The books reviewed here illustrate this phenomenon.

When Dr. E. Fuller Torrey's book, Surviving Schizophrenia, was first published in l984, there was nothing like it in print. It became the Bible of NAMI members, and NAMI sold thousands of copies. Revised in l988, it still stood alone in the marketplace.

Now the third edition is available, updated to cover the effect on perceptions and treatment of schizophrenia of a decade of research in science, pharmacology, services, and treatment. And, lo and behold, another book stands beside it: Coping with Schizophrenia: A Guide for Families, by Kim T. Muesner, Ph.D., and Susan Gingerich, M.S.W. Dr. Torrey's third edition and the Muesner and Gingerich book are comprehensive, authoritative, compassionate, and understandable.

Both offer practical, realistic help for those dealing with the problems schizophrenia raises. Both seek a higher quality of life for schizophrenia sufferers and their families, and both share the hope Dr. Torrey expresses in his preface:

"There is now more hope than there ever has been--hope for research breakthroughs, hope for better treatments, hope for better lives. Such hope will drive us forward until it is realized. (p. xiv)"

Dr. Torrey is a Washington-based clinical and research psychiatrist. He is well known to many NAMI members and has spoken at many NAMI conventions and affiliate meetings. Dr. Muesner is an associate professor of psychiatry and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School.

Ms. Gingerich is a research associate at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. All three have specialized in the treatment of schizophrenia, and all three view it as a no-fault brain disease. Dr. Torrey has led a recent major study of schizophrenia and twins.

As the subtitle of Dr. Torrey's book states, the third edition is for consumers and providers as well as families. In the first section of the book, he describes the enormity of schizophrenia as a national public health issue. The next section deals sensitively and in depth with the experience of schizophrenia "from the inside," by quoting what consumers say about their suffering. "If a worse disease than schizophrenia exists, it has not yet come to light," Dr. Torrey writes.

The next sections tell readers what schizophrenia is and is not and discuss the prognoses of the disease. The author then moves on to discussions of the causes of schizophrenia, its treatment (psychiatry, hospitals, and medication), and rehabilitation.

Perhaps the most practical parts of the book are the chapters that deal with six major problems and ten questions that arise with schizophrenia. Newcomers to Surviving Schizophrenia may want to begin with these chapters.

In the final chapter, "How to be an Advocate," Dr. Torrey draws on his experience with NAMI's program of education, support, and advocacy. His specific suggestions reflect the activities of NAMI affiliates.

Additional reading is suggested at the end of each chapter, and there are four appendices. The first is an annotated list of l5 books about schizophrenia (all of them were sold at one time by NAMI, many of them are sold today) and the l5 worst books on the subject. The second appendix is a list of videotapes.

The third lists resources available to readers: good journals to keep them up-to-date, NAMI networks and other groups with specific interests related to schizophrenia, courses and training programs, and addresses of exemplary clubhouses and continuous treatment teams. The final appendix lists NAMI's state affiliates and phone numbers. There are notes for each chapter that are interesting to read, but difficult to correlate with chapter texts.

Coping with Schizophrenia: A Guide for Families covers much the same territory as Dr. Torrey's book, but in a somewhat different style. Tables, worksheets, and short summaries of topics enhance readability, as do the frequent subdivisions of chapter sections. Part I is an overview that defines the disease, discusses diagnosis, and reviews symptoms.

Part II, entitled "Preventing Relapse," deals with treatment. Part III suggests ways in which families can create a more supportive environment, and it includes a helpful section on problem-solving techniques. Part IV deals with specific problems, including alcohol and drug abuse.

And Part V, entitled "Looking Ahead," includes a chapter on sibling relationships. A "Resources" section lists agencies and organizations that may be helpful to families and includes an unannotated bibliography that is extended in a chapter-by-chapter list of additional books.

Which book does the NAMI Literature Committee recommend? It recommends both, and NAMI will sell both. The Torrey book is longer and deals in greater detail with the dimensions of the schizophrenia problem, the experience of schizophrenia, rehabilitation, and advocacy. Its appendices are much more extensive than the resources section of the Muesner and Gingerich book.

Dr. Torrey occupies a special place in NAMI's history and NAMI's heart. His new book demonstrates his wide-ranging knowledge and wisdom. We are delighted to place another how-to book on schizophrenia beside Surviving Schizophrenia on the NAMI bookshelf. That the two were published almost simultaneously is a cause for rejoicing among NAMI members. More books about serious mental illness are published every year, and the quality of many of them is excellent. We have come along way since we began.

Coping with Schizophrenia: A Guide for Families by Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D., and Susan Gingerich, M.S.W. New Harbinger Publications: 1994. 356 pp.

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers, third edition, by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. HarperCollins: 1995. 398 pp.

Reviewed by Harriet Baldwin NAMI Literature Committee