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Anxiety: A short History

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Title: Anxiety: A short History

Author: Allan V Horwitz

Publisher: Johns Hopkins Press

Reviewer: Paul Watson, head of child development, Marshland High School

What was it like?

As we continue to move forward in time we all tend to feel that our worries and anxieties are worse for us, and harder to cope with than those experienced by the generations before us! This book helps to demonstrate how this is not the case by giving examples of historical specialists and their ideas, alongside professionals working with today’s issues. This is a well written book but is not for the feint hearted! If you have a particular interest in mental health then you will find it an interesting and captivating read, most of the time. As a specialist in mental health it might be a “fun” read and give some alternative ideas or facts that you might otherwise have managed without; but for anyone who doesn’t have a desire to know such detail it might be a bit much for them.

I currently deliver sessions in secondary school on mental health issues and found the book  detailed and interesting but feel that unless you had a vested interest in the topic and in particular its history, this might not be the book for you.

What were the highlights? 

When I first picked up this book and looked at the contents page I considered that the chapters looked quite prescriptive, almost with no indication of what I might find in them, other than the obvious chapter title. I was pleased to turn to the back of the book to find a comprehensive index that gave huge amounts of references to topics, conditions and authors that allowed me to find interesting information quickly and easily.

Strengths & weaknesses:

It depends on what you want to get from this book. It is written in the more narrative style so would be a good read for anyone who has a general interest in mental health and can sit and read their way through it. This would not be an appropriate way for a practitioner to use it if they have a specific question to ask, however the concise index would allow the practitioner to find some answers although these might not be as detailed as required.

Who should read it?

I believe that any new students or practitioners to mental health would benefit from this book, with possible interest from anyone who has a desire to know about mental health issues. It is not however a mental health manual for specialists; although it never claimed to be either.


Anxiety: A short history

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