Back to Life, Back to Normality. Cognitive Therapy, Recovery and Psychosis/Think You're Crazy? Think Again. A Resource Book for Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis

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Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy Back to Life, Back to Normality. Cognitive Therapy, Recovery and Psychosis Douglas Turkington, David Kingdon, Shanaya Rathod, Sarah KJ Wilcock, Alison Brabban, Paul Cromarty, Robert Dudley, Richard Gray, Jeremy Pelton, Ron Siddle, Peter Weiden. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2009. 186 p. US$25.99

Reviewer rating: Good

Think You're Crazy? Think Again. A Resource Book for Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis Anthony P Morrison, Julia C Renton, Paul French, Richard P Bentall. New York (NY): Routledge; 2008. 146 p. £24.75

Reviewer rating: Excellent

Any bookstore has a dozen self-help volumes on how to deal with anxiety, but books on how to deal with voices or paranoia are scarce. The fact that a psychological intervention, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), has been found to improve outcomes in psychosis should be welcome news to psychosis sufferers, but there is a paucity of books describing this approach aimed at the service user.

The UK authors of Back to Life, Back to Normality and Think You 're Crazy? Think Again have been pivotal in the development of CBT for psychosis. In these books, they translate their expertise into simple, clear concepts that psychosis sufferers might find useful. Both books have the same reassuring theme: psychotic experiences exist on a spectrum with normal human experience. Any of us can hear voices under certain conditions, but some of us are more prone to hearing them than others. Paranoia is common, but people who jump to conclusions and do not check the facts, have it worse. The hopeful message here is that, by considering alternate ways of thinking, and behaving, we can have more control over paranoia and voices than we think.

Both books cover the same ground. They discuss psychotic symptoms, the cognitive-behavioural model, self-esteem, relapse prevention, medications, and how to interact with mental health professionals. Both use case examples to sensitively illustrate experiences to which readers can relate. Both are filled with examples of the kind of thought forms characteristic of CBT books of all stripes.

However these books are not equally effective. While Back to Life, Back to Normality is more comprehensive, with a chapter on negative symptoms and another addressed to caregivers, it suffers from unevenness, perhaps owing to having 11 authors, and apparently no editor. The chapters vary in quality and clarity, and present slightly different types of thought records, which might be confusing for a service user trying to integrate new ideas. Some authors seem to forget that their intended authence would benefit from clear, uncluttered prose. …