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Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope
By Vernon M. Neppe MD, PhD
Expert physician uses new literary genre "sciction" -- science through literature -- to make medicine comprehensible to patients, general readers and students: Unique self-help book on brain medications educates through fascination.
Seattle, 16th April, 2003: "The Second Coming of Oliver Sacks." This is one reader's portrayal of Dr. Vernon M. Neppe's latest book Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope. High praise, indeed, given that Dr. Sacks has achieved an international reputation with his books, movies and TV programs in the area of unusual, abnormal brain functioning.
Vernon Neppe MD, PhD, in his own right an internationally respected neuropsychiatrist, expert on brain medications, and author of Innovative Psychopharmacotherapy and The Psychology of Déjà Vu, agrees that there are similarities: Dr. Sacks's books and TV series, he says, are about the brain and are meant for the general reader. Similarly, Cry the Beloved Mind aims at educating patients, their families, the public, students and academia about the brain.
Dr. Neppe says that the first chapter of his book (entitled Awakenings Revisited) may well be compared to the movie Awakenings. That film was based on Dr. Sacks's account of how patients were re-awakened after many years by a special drug. But, he adds: "Cry the Beloved Mind also encompasses an extra dimension, as I share several personal new discoveries with my readers as well as targeting hope for recovery. My book is far more than just a wonderful way for the general reader to be educated in areas such as depression, seizures, psychosis, brain medications and social medical issues. I wrote it with a far deeper purpose in mind. There are many patients suffering out there and I want to help them."
Cry the Beloved Mind is, indeed, a compassionate, respectful, self-help book which allows patients, their families and the general reader to understand what their doctors are doing when using powerful mind-modifying medications such as Prozac, BuSpar and Tegretol. As for Dr. Neppe's consultations in the book, he has taken a fresh approach, writing in a style that he describes as being "a play within prose." It is fundamentally a dialogue between the generic 'Doctor' and his patients or medical students using the entirely new literary genre of sciction, medical science expressed through fictitious composite case histories. Although incorporating various patients, all the cases are based on fact, so that there is a real educational opportunity while patient confidentiality is protected. The book functions as a unit with the medical student, Andrew, developing not only skills but medical maturity as the book progresses. Dr Neppe emphasizes that despite the new name of "sciction", the book is still classified under non-fiction. "Just because it is written as a literary piece, with dialogue and characterization, does not diminish the fundamental factual science in the book. The new literary label could as easily have been called scientific text education through literature. This was the challenge of the book: to maintain science, to educate and to fascinate."
The section of Dr. Neppe's book that some may find most intriguing are the pages devoted to so-called 'medical social issues'. Embedded in every chapter, are short, spicy interchanges about the use of generic medications, relating to issues surrounding legitimate informed consent, as well as what constitutes normality, self-growth, and the ongoing dilemmas of treatment. Also included are reasons why not to commit suicide.
For the reader, a survey of the Table of Contents of Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope is most illuminating. Each of the twelve chapters build to make a magnificent whole. For instance.
And yet, the most valuable reference portion of the book may be the comprehensive glossaries: patients and families repeatedly comment on how useful these are to their education; so do students.
Dr. Michael Norden, author of Beyond Prozac, is impressed with Dr. Neppe's new approach. It is, he says, "A compelling first-hand experience of the fascinating world of neuropsychiatry. Witnessing this master clinician at work fuels a realistic optimism about recovery from even the most extreme afflictions of the mind."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vernon Neppe, MD, PhD, FRSSAf, FFPsych, FRCPC, is a specialist in neuropsychiatry and psychopharmacology, as well as a forensic expert. He and his family live in Seattle, Washington, where he practices medicine as Director of the Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, and as Attending Physician at Northwest Hospital. Dr. Neppe also is adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at St Louis University, St Louis, MO. Until 1992, he was full-time University of Washington faculty (where in 1986 he founded and directed the first Division of Neuropsychiatry in a Department of Psychiatry in the United States). During his prestigious career, he has received numerous board certifications, specialist qualifications and professional awards and he has published and lectured extensively round the world. He is in-demand as a speaker on brain and medicines, and he has a special skill in communicating with different audiences, making him an ideal candidate for media interviews. His expertise ranges from brain conditions like amnesia --- he was interviewed for TV in the famous Jody Roberts case, to aggression, unusual behaviors and seizures and through to psychiatric medications, generic substitution, gun control, normality and the paranormal. His deep empathy, special expertise and important discoveries form the foundation of this unique book directed towards general readers, patients and families, as well as students in psychology, medicine and related areas.