3 out of 4 stars
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Under the Hippocratic oath, physicians undertake to benefit their patients and abstain from harming them. However, what if the treatment makes the condition worse because the diagnosis is completely wrong?
In his non-fiction book Epidemic of Bipolar Disorders Destroying U.S. And Our Children, George Isaac, MD, sounds the alarm about a trend he has noticed over more than 50 years in psychiatry. He believes that patients who are truly suffering from bipolar spectrum disorders are often misdiagnosed with a range of other conditions, including the increasingly common diagnoses of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The latter could even be dangerous because stimulants prescribed for ADHD could exacerbate the mania that is part of bipolar disorder. He discusses all facets of this in the book, including examples from his own practice and a comprehensive analysis of the cases of two mass shooters. He uses these to illustrate the dangers of missing and mistreating bipolar disorders.
Notably, Dr. Isaac explicitly refrains from blaming the professionals involved in those cases. One significant positive aspect of this book is the author's compassion, which prompts him to do everything he can to ensure patients receive appropriate treatment. This book has a fascinating connection with the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts. Firstly, Dr. Isaac considers the bipolar situation an epidemic; as such, combating it should represent the next big challenge for the medical community once the pandemic has been tamed. Secondly, the author's own brush with COVID-19 galvanized him into getting his message out quickly. I'll let him tell you more in his own words:
"Consider this as a free-flowing conversation with an elderly psychiatrist, who has spent practically all his adult life, as a medical doctor, psychiatrist, and child psychiatrist trying to understand and provide treatment for people of all ages suffering from psychiatric problems. ... This book is a result of what I learned from those efforts, specifically the story of misunderstood and misdiagnosed bipolar-disorder-suffering-children and adults fighting a somewhat lonely fight against the bipolar epidemic ... Tragic as this story of Bipolar Disorder is, I feel rewarded that I had the good fortune to stumble upon this reality and share my understandings with all of you." (Epidemic of Bipolar Disorders Destroying U.S. and Our Children by George Isaac, MD, pp.214-215.
He writes this by way of explaining the disorganization of a book he put out in haste. Indeed, a drawback of the book is that it is rough and unedited. I encountered many punctuation errors, inconsistent and incorrect capitalization, and a lot of repetition. A definition of bipolar disorder comes rather late in the book; as the author admits himself, this should probably come nearer the beginning!
Despite all this, most passages read quite smoothly. The work contained many astute observations from Dr. Isaac's own practice, including in India in the 1970s. While it is too unpolished to receive a perfect rating, I give this book three out of four stars because it includes some excellent content. Additionally, Dr. Isaac's mission to put his insights on record is a noble one. I particularly recommend this to mental health professionals and patients as well as the families of those with psychiatric conditions.
Calling bipolar disorder "the great masquerader", Dr. Isaac stresses that there are many misdiagnosed people out there. Therefore, if any symptom he describes rings a bell, you need to read this. A current diagnosis such as ADHD, autism or borderline personality disorder could be incorrect. I hope that Dr. Isaac will now find the time to pen a revised edition of this book. It could be improved through the elimination of some repetition, on the one hand, and through the inclusion of more in-depth research, on the other. It could then become a truly valuable tool to aid physicians in their mission to help, rather than harm, their patients.
Epidemic of bipolar disorders destroying U.S. and our children
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