At the end of the sixth volume of this Second Edition of the American Handbook of Psychiatry, I, as the editor-in-chief, began my concluding remarks with the following thoughts:
With this volume the second edition of the American Handbook of Psychiatry comes to a conclusion. A reading of its various tables of contents, or even a cursory perusal of a few sections, is sufficient to reveal its scope and magnitude.
If for a few seconds we suspend our scientific judgment and give our human propensity for metaphor free rein, what may come to mind is the building of a Medieval cathedral. In this Handbook, as in the cathedral, many people from different fields participated. They were united in the hard and long work by a common vision and aim, which we hope has been achieved, of giving an adequate representation of contemporary psychiatry.
When I wrote those sentences, I felt that the metaphor of the cathedral had ended. But just as many cathedrals have required additional work after they were thought to be completed, so too, I have come to believe, will the American Handbook of Psychiatry benefit from modification and improvement over time.
We are participating in an era of great scientific expansion, of biological discoveries, of rapid social changes—all of which affect the individual psyche and group psychology; the influence of these factors on psychiatric conditions has to be constantly reevaluated.
One solution to the problems presented by this uninterrupted growth would be to publish from time to time new editions of the Handbook. But the editors and publishers of the Handbook feel that this is not the best course of action. Nearly all of what is included in the first six volumes of the Second Edition is still valid and applicable. It would not be fair to encourage readers who have bought the six volumes to make considerable financial investment in a completely new edition.
The solution chosen by the editors and publishers is to include these recent modifications and improvements in this seventh volume, Advances and New Directions. It is essential for psychiatrists and those in related fields to familiarize themselves with current developments. Surely all mental health professionals will want to become informed, not purely from the theoretical point of view, but also for a direct approach to clinical practice. Among the topics considered are endorphins and psychosis; implications of split-brain studies; the latest findings on the genetic models of mental illness; psychopharmacotherapy as applied exclusively to children; the child at risk for major psychiatric illness; borderline syndromes in childhood; new changes in the psychoanalytic concepts of narcissism; new concepts of masked depression; biofeedback; the most recent concepts of human sexuality; new management of sleep disorders; the role of adult play in mental health; the prevention and treatment of mental retardation; the roles of computers in psychiatry; changes in law that pertain . . .