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Into the Abyss

by Professor Anthony David

eBooks of the Month Lifestyle and Health Mind & Body - books to help you be better

LoveReading View on Into the Abyss

Into the Abyss sees eminent cognitive neuropsychiatrist Anthony David share his considerable professional expertise and experience with lively aplomb. Setting out an overarching aim to “bridge the gulf of understanding between those with disorders and those without,” and explaining that modern psychiatry is an interweaving of biology, psychology and sociology, David elucidates that “every time we meet a new patient, we must decide which of the three, if any, is most important.” This, he argues, is fundamental to understanding and treating mental health disorders, as remarkably demonstrated through the case studies shared here, with each patient requiring complex multi-faceted diagnoses and rehabilitation strategies.

Throughout “the tension between the perspective of an individual and that of the broader social world” is laid bare. Disorders might be experienced on an internal personal level, but they also exist and play out in a social context. Indeed, they can be caused and exacerbated by these contexts, be the condition schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or an eating disorder. This complex interplay between mind, brain, body and cultural context is acutely shown in the case of a forty-year-old woman with anorexia nervosa. “Hunger and the drive to eat is...made up of ritual, mores, commercialisation and ethics”; “the control of appetite is managed by a complex but beautifully balanced neural-humeral programme.” The tenacious untangling of the causes of this patient’s disorder is extraordinarily fascinating, with unexpected findings and outcomes.

Unflinchingly honest, erudite and humble, this is illuminating reading for anyone interested in mental health and “how brain and mind interact and, in a sense, vie for control.”

Joanne Owen

Into the Abyss Synopsis

We cannot know how to fix a problem until we understand its causes. But even for some of the most common mental health problems, specialists argue over whether the answers lie in the person's biology, their psychology or their circumstances.

As a cognitive neuropsychiatrist, Anthony David brings together many fields of enquiry, from social and cognitive psychology to neurology. The key for each patient might be anything from a traumatic memory to a chemical imbalance, an unhealthy way of thinking or a hidden tumour.

Patrick believes he is dead. Jennifer's schizophrenia medication helped with her voices but did it cause Parkinson's? Emma is in a coma - or is she just refusing to respond?

Drawing from Professor David's career as a clinician and academic, these fascinating case studies reveal the unique complexity of the human mind, stretching the limits of our understanding.

Into the Abyss Press Reviews

'A highly eloquent, fascinating and deeply compassionate book about the continuing mystery of mental illness and the cruel fallacy of seeing it as somehow less real and deserving than so-called physical illness.' -- Henry Marsh CBE, neurosurgeon and author of Do No Harm

'I was expecting this to make my brain hurt, but I was immediately hooked on it...A witty, humane and fascinating book.' -- Jo Brand

'Few are better suited to tell the story of our mental lives than Anthony David. He has written a beautiful, intimate book of the stories he's seen, one that probes at the nexus of the biological and societal...In his shoes, we get to step into the private realm of the psychiatrist's office, and often into the lingering questions left in the psychiatrist's mind.' -- Dr David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Stanford University and author of Incognito and The Brain

'An illuminating, thoughtful and humane encounter with the human mind.' -- Nathan Filer, author of This Book Will Change Your Mind About Mental Health

'Some years ago I told the BMJ that the three biggest influences on me were Anthony Clare, Anthony Soprano and Anthony David. The first sadly is no longer with us, the second never existed, but I am delighted to say that the third has just produced the book we knew he alone could. It's a classic - warm, erudite, and endlessly fascinating. It reminds me of Oliver Sacks in his prime, and there is no higher praise.' -- Sir Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine, King's College London

'What an insightful and heartfelt book. Professor David's seven in-depth cases expose both the rifts and junctures of the brain and the disordered mind. By emphasizing the subjective inner life of his patients, he provides a welcome antidote to the reductionist thinking of modern medicine while still adhering to sound principles of neuroscience.' -- Dr Alan Ropper, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and author of Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: Extraordinary Journeys into the Human Brain

'Anthony David brings alive the specialist language of neuropsychiatry - the medical domain where the brain meets the mind - in a series of erudite, insightful and sympathetic accounts of individual patients and their families. This book is written on the basis of a lifetime's clinical experience but readable by anyone who wants to know more about some of the most challenging and perplexing disorders of consciousness, thought and emotion.' -- Dr Edward Bullmore, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge

'This powerful book can help everyone understand our minds better.' -- Dr Rahul Jandial, author of Life Lessons from a Brain Surgeon

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781786077059
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781786077066
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Ebook

Book Information

ISBN: 9781786077066
Publication date: 6th February 2020
Author: Professor Anthony David
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Ebook
Genres: eBook Favourites, Lifestyle & Health, Mind & Body,
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About Professor Anthony David

Anthony David is Director of the UCL Institute of Mental Health and honorary consultant neuropsychiatrist at the National Hospital, Queen Square. For twenty-eight years he was a consultant psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital, London, the country's leading psychiatric institution. A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Academy of Medical Sciences, he has published over 600 peer-reviewed articles and is co-editor of the journal Cognitive Neuropsychiatry.and the book Lishman's Organic Psychiatry. He also wrote the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of R. D. Laing's The Divided Self.

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