Book Reviews

New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder, Fawcett, Jan, M.D., Golden, Bernard, Ph.D., and Rosenfeld, Nancy. Roseville, Calif.: Prima Publishing, 2000. Paperback, 333 pages.

A collaboration between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a writer-patient, New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder is written for the layperson and has basic, reader-friendly information about bipolar disorder. Like most books of this type, it provides a general overview of the illness, medications and therapies, and tips for living with the illness. Also included is a brief section on children and adolescents, a subject that was often ignored. Unlike Adult Bipolar Disorders, reviewed above, it mentions only two alternative medicines (supplements): St. John’s wort and the omega-3 fatty acids.

This book claims to be an authoritative guide to bipolar disorder. However, the authors fall short of this goal, contradict accepted theories, and present complementary therapies not mentioned in other books on the subject. The dubious thinking of the authors is shown when they expound on “authorities” who failed to handle the illness appropriately. Among these are Danielle Steel (ignorant of the danger in her son’s illness) and Judge Sol Wachtler (the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals who was ultimately convicted and jailed for his behavior). Chapter 8, entitled “Optimism, Hope and Transcendence,” discusses the works of Czikszentmihalyi, Seligman, and Coleman (names this reviewer has not come across before in her reading), with their ideas on observing our emotions and thinking as strategies “to directly observe and alter our emotional life in a positive way.” Most of the section on psychotherapy is devoted to cognitive therapy, although coping skills and problem-solving therapy are also mentioned. A final example of the book’s shortcomings is in the chapter on medication, in a brief overview of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). The authors state, “Although it is vastly safer and more humane today than it was in the past, it is still a controversial and seldom employed therapy.”

Although the book is easy for the layperson to read, New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder falls short of the authors’ claims of “proven methods of managing your life & your work.” In fact, the promised “cutting-edge treatment models” ignore many proven methods in use by practitioners.

By Marion Ehrlich


1 Comment

  1. I don’t feel like there is any hope for me. My world just feels like it’s falling down.

    Comment by Nika Jones — February 23, 2012 @ 15:21

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