Oxford University Press Publishes a New Book on Endocrine Psychiatry by Max Fink, MD, and Edward Shorter, PhD.

Endocrine Psychiatry: Solving the Riddle of Melancholia is the latest book published by Max Fink, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology Emeritus at Stony Brook University.  The book, published in May 2010, is written with Edward Shorter, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and the History of Medicine at the University of Toronto. The authors present the intriguing history of the discovery of neuroendocrine markers for severe depression, and their rejection by the psychiatric community.

The authors, both of whom have a longstanding interest in the use of ECT in the treatment of major depression, argue that appreciating the role of the endocrine system in melancholia will result in a better understanding of the biological causes of depression and may lead to treatments that are as effective as ECT but with better optics*.

They have a broader agenda as well - re-establishing psychiatry as a medical science rooted in the biology of the whole body. While recognizing the important roles played by neurotransmitters in the brain, they argue that glandular secretions carried by the bloodstream throughout the body, as well as the body’s immune system, are equally important in the generation and modulation of melancholia and other stress-related disorders.

The book is available from Amazon and other on-line book sellers.

* The term ‘optics’ as Drs. Fink and Shorter use it here refers to the way ECT is portrayed in popular culture. As Dr. Fink explains, “In their history of ECT, Edward Shorter and David Healy point out that the most damaging elements in ECT history were the presentations of seizures in films, especially in the classic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."  Nowhere else in medicine is treatment portrayed in such gruesome detail; even when open heart surgery is portrayed, the field is narrow and the bleeding and gore minimized. Shorter and Healy argued that the "optics" of ECT treatment is a major element in the public (and professional) abhorrence."