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MoodReview - Mood
The Key to Understanding Ourselves and Others
by Patrick M. Burke
Prometheus Books, 2013
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H.
Jun 10th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 24)

Mood is a book about mood.  The author, Patrick M. Burke, is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, at the University of Arizona.  In an overview, presented in Chapter 1, Burke identifies the prominent themes coursing prominently through the arteries and veins of the body of the book.  As identified by Burke, the theme flowing centrally through the book is that mood reflects the way a person is tuned into the world, reveals a person’s possible options in a specific situation, and becomes the basis of action.  A second theme is that people are self-constituting.  Another theme that flows through the textual corpus is that mood and tuning are associated with neural circuits and body systems.  A further thematic emphasis is that disorders emerge from the interaction of  events and the functional status of neural circuits and systems.

The intellectually very stimulating discourse of Burke is garbed rather distinctly with a cloak of relative abstruseness.

And congruently, the text is styled in relatively esoteric fashion.

From the book’s start to its end, the writing of Burke is notable for the consistency of its instructiveness and informativeness, in the substantively enframing context of mood.

The mood centric discourse of Burke is put to paper over the course of fourteen chapters.

Research referencing of the textual contents is quite extensive.

Burke’s examination of copious research materials, tethered substantively to mood, is performed expertly.

Multitudinous citations for textually referenced research  materials are given, on a chapter by chapter basis, in a “Notes” structural section, placed structurally after the last chapter.

Occasional vignettes are insinuated, in a substantively germane manner, into crevices of the text.

Some didactic enhancing “Figures” are embedded likewise, in substantively germane fashion, in the textual terrain.

Some fragments (in the form of quotes), extracted from various sources, are grafted pertinently into the text.

The intellectual concoction brewed in delectable fashion in the writing cauldron of Burke has an intellectually very pleasing savour of thoughtfulness.  The thoughtful nature of Burke’s discourse is indeed pleasingly evident across the length and breadth of the book.

Expertly informed views and opinions are further ingredients found in intellectually great abundance, in Burke’s kettle of writing.

As Burke views the subject area of mood, his questioning, and discerningly critical, eye is much in evidence.

In Chapter 2, Burke sights the issue of what is mood as well as the issue of what is emotion.  Exhibiting the instructive informativeness that pervades the book in its entirety, Burke expounds instructively and informatively on the research of Matthew Ratcliffe and Martin Heidegger.

At the start of Chapter 3, Burke alert readers that the chapter will highlight the development of moods and emotions.  In this contextual frame, Burke looks at infants’ moods and discrete emotions, early temperament and the development of personality, infant attachment to caregivers, facial expressions, pro social behavior, and the period of adolescence.

As Chapter 4 begins, Burke explains that tuning/mood arises through the activity of neural networks and body systems.  An overview is given of selected brain regions pertinent to mood and emotion, including comment about the amygdala (described by Burke as a hub in mood, emotion, and social behavior).  Neurotransmitter systems garner rapt attention; and Burke further raptly examines particular circuits relevant to tuning.  As the chapter nears its end, Burke draws readers’ attention to temperament and neural circuits.

Genes, interactions of genes and environments, and neural circuits fall within the wide sweeping intellectual ken of Burke, in Chapter 5.  Burke discourses that genes and environmental factors are associated with individual behavioral differences.  The discourse ranges farther to:  experience-expectant plasticity and experience-dependent plasticity; circuit development; and genes and susceptibility to psychopathology.

The stress response forms the substantive cynosure of Chapter 6.  The sympathetic-adrenomedullary system is reviewed didactically as is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical  system.  Readers learn further that the stress response is modulated by the amygdala, hippocampus, and the orbitofrontal cortex.  Burke explains, additionally, that starting in early infancy, relationships are associated importantly with the stress response.  Acute and chronic stress and neural circuits are sighted by the roving intellectual eye of Burke as are vulnerability and resilience.

Issues in psychiatric diagnosis rise to the substantive fore, of Chapter 7.  Burke casts a critical eye, at the area of the current categorical diagnostic system; and looks farther afield at a dimensional approach.  As Burke explains, the fifth iteration of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders incorporates aspects of the dimensional approach.

In a several chapters long discourse, Burke thoughtfully examines:  anxiety disorders (Chapter 8); depression (Chapter 9); bipolar disorder (Chapter 10); and disruptive behavior disorders (Chapter 11).  In the respective chapters, the thoughtfulness of Burke extends characteristically to didactic discourse relating to:  classification, neural  circuits, gene environment interactions, and the appearance of symptoms.

A range of therapies is studied by Burke in Chapter 12, with tentacles of probing discussion reaching psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.  Concerning these therapies, Burke scrutinizes anxiety and depression.  Burke also looks pensively at acceptance and commitment therapy and at well-being therapy.

The intellectually sharp focus of Burke, in penultimate Chapter 13, is on medication.  The intellectual flashlight of Burke brightly illumines:  anti-anxiety agents; antidepressants (encompassing comment regarding:  monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tri-cyclic antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors); and mood stabilizing agents (including:  lithium, anticonvulsants, and second generation antipsychotics).  Burke also expounds on medication with regard particularly to anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

Anxiety and depression receive further attention, in concluding Chapter 14, in the context of their incidence in selected illnesses.

Cautious readers may sound a cautionary note that Burke has shown readers a still photo of mood related research, whereas clinical and scientific investigation of issues pertinent to mood is a movie in progress.

A further cautionary note may be sounded that, although Burke has examined expertly the extant body of mood centric research, particular views proffered by Burke may not be shared unequivocally by others with expert knowledge of mood.

Clinicians with professional ties to the mental health field have much to gain professionally from perusing this quite edifying book.

The writing efforts of Burke similarly should edify greatly researchers working in the realm of neuroscience.

The scope of likely great professional interest extends further to geneticists and pharmacologists.

 

© 2014 Leo Uzych

 

Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University.  His area of special professional interest is healthcare.  Twitter @LeoUzych

 


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