Wednesday, August 12, 2009
My new book "The Yipping Tiger and Other Tales from the Neuropsychiatric Clinic"
(By Perminder Sachdev, UNSW Press, ISBN 1742230849) has just been published. It comprises ten case studies selected to reveal the workings of the brain. The case studies are gems from the rich pickings in the clinic I have run at the NPI for 20 years. The clinical descriptions are interspersed with commentary and dialogue, and peppered with other examples. The final presentation may therefore not simulate what exactly transpired in the clinical encounters. At times some literary concessions have been taken but without compromising scientific accuracy or clinical authenticity. I could be accused of some embellishment, but the stories are based on real patients whose identities have been completely camouflaged to protect their privacy. I justify the literary touch-up for the simple reason that these stories are addressed to a lay audience and not a scientific journal.
If the reader, after having read this book, walks away with wonderment about the brain, my objective would be fulfilled. If he or she is also amazed and enthralled by the human condition that these cases present, my joy would be boundless. In their brain–mind foibles, I hope to have captured some of their humanity in all its frailty and emotion-laden sanity. We are not human if we are perfect. We may strive to be, but it is my belief – should I even say ‘hope’ – that we will never attain that goal.
The titles of the chapters may seem enigmatic, but each has a reference to a neuropsychiatric syndrome. They can be decoded as follows:
The Yipping Tiger (Golfer’s cramps)
Shaking hands with Dr Strangelove (The alien hand syndrome)
Swearing like a Spanish sailor (Coprolalia in Tourette’s syndrome)
The Mozart Complex (Brain enhancement)
The mirror always lies (Anorexia nervosa)
The dead homunculus (Frontal lobe dysfunction)
Serotonin’s seductive song (Major depression)
A chesty problem (Obsessive-compulsive disorder)
Lord Nelson’s ghost (Phantom limb)
Freudian slips and semantic slides (Mild cognitive impairment)
The book has only been released in Australia, and the international edition will be released in Spring 2010.
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