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12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesADHD NationAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child 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FieldsMind to MindMommy I'm Still in HereMore Than a LabelMy Flesh and BloodMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNo Child Left DifferentNo Two AlikeNon-Drug Treatments for ADHDNot Much Just Chillin'NurtureShockOdd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the WoodsOvercoming ADHDOvercoming School AnxietyParenting a Child Who Has Intense EmotionsParenting Children With ADHDParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople with HyperactivityPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPlease Don't Label My ChildPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Problem GirlsPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPurgeRaising a Moody 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Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of AutismThe 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Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
This latest publication on Bipolar Disorder (BD) is written specifically for teens and young adults with the condition. It contains 7 chapters, in addition to the introduction, which starts with a neat description of the symptoms from the point of view of the person experiencing the disorder. This makes it very accessible and reveals a high degree of insight on the part of the authors.
Chapter one deals with the basics and explains depression and mania, again in plain English style with informative case vignettes. Perhaps the weakness was the all too inclusive definition of moods which, like all vague all encompassing definitions, end up defining very little. Today the affective sciences have very competent definitions and distinctions between terms like affect, emotion, mood, feelings and so on (e.g., see work by James Gross at Stanford University, Richard Davidson at Wisconsin University, etc).
Chapter two focuses on how to get help and what young people can expect from professionals. I liked the fact that the authors offered examples of useful questions to ask of various professionals as well as the type of questions young people will in all likelihood be asked by those same professionals.
Chapter three is crucial and I'm glad they dedicated a whole chapter to the issue of accepting the illness, as this has a decisive initial role in commitment to therapy. They illustrated this with Ashley's moving story and her fears of revealing her diagnosis to the wider world, and her all too well known pattern of discontinuing medication.
Chapter four is about tools; "you don't have to be a passive passenger being swept down the bipolar river" is an evocative sentence which the authors used to introduce the key elements they believe are integral to a successful recovery. These key elements can be captured by the four S's of bipolar stability, namely, creating a structured life, managing stress, getting a good sleep, and learning to self-monitor. I think this chapter deftly explains these factors which are common to almost all psychological approaches to psychotherapy for BD, and can indeed be found in any text dealing with the bipolar condition.
Chapter five addresses the issue of whether it is convenient or not to let others know about the illness and stipulates that total secrecy is probably not good at all, while exercising some discretion about who we confide in is also a good measure. The issue of a "helping team" is emphasized.
In chapter six one can clearly see that the book has been written for young people. "Managing your independence" focuses on academic over commitment in college, dealing with ample opportunities for experimenting with drugs, alcohol and excessive partying, and the issues of psychiatric and psychological continuity.
Finally, chapter seven, "Looking forward", addresses the painful reality that sometimes long term academic and professional goals might not be achieved and how the reality of BD sometimes forces young people to re-think important plans in life. Finding the fine line between being too fatalistic and overly optimistic appears to be a challenge. Focusing on the strengths rather than on pathologizing the individual, the authors propose, will help in finding the optimal middle ground. And even if things don't go well, 'picking yourself up' appears to be a skill required to enjoy quality of life if you have BD.
Overall, this is a good book and I have already found myself recommending it to some of my BD clients and some of my university students. One of the highlights of the book is the vignettes. They are clear, relevant, and at times very moving. This will maximize the possibilities of getting throughto young people as I'm sure they relate much more effectively when the emphasis is on experiences. Fortunately, the academic accuracy has not been sacrificed in the name of accessibility and the important findings in the expert literature are also covered, namely, importance of medication and therapy, key helpers, early symptom monitoring, cautionary notes about sleep deprivation, alcohol abuse, need for emergency plans, and others.
In terms of format, at times the authors used terms and annoying acronyms more common in the USA which will be a little cryptic for others. However, these minor offenses occurred rather infrequently so we can certainly forgive them. Their laudable effort in putting across such a complex and much needed message in an accessible yet rigorous manner is to be commended.
© 2011 Rodrigo Becerra
Dr Rodrigo Becerra, Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology and Social Science, Faculty of Computing, Health and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia