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Lithium Its Role in Psychiatric Research and Treatment

Samuel Gershon and Baron Shopsin, editors: Lithium Its Role in Psychiatric Research and Treatment. Plenum Press, New York, 1973. (358 pages).

INFORMATION ON CONTENTS: The material in this book is organized into 16 chapters. In the first, a “narrative account” is given about the discovery, and uses (nonmedical and medical) of lithium with special reference to its use in psychiatry; and in the second the chemistry and biochemistry of the substance is reviewed.  These two introductory chapters are followed by seven chapters on the pharmacology of the substance from which the first (chapter three) deals with “lithium absorption, distribution, renal handling, and effect on body electrolytes”, the second (chapter four) with lithium’s effect on “biogenic amines” (catecholamines and indoleamines”), and the third (chapter five) with its effect on cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP), membrane transport and cholinergic mechanisms. Included under “pharmacology” are chapters on the “neurophysiology” (chapter six), “toxicology (chapter seven), “teratology” (chapter eight) and “biology” (chapter nine) of lithium. There is a separate chapter (chapter ten), dedicated to “lithium preparations, dosage, and control”. The book culminates in six clinical chapters from which in the first (chapter eleven) “clinical and epidemiological aspects“ of affective disorders are presented, and in the second, third, fourth and fifth (chapters twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen) findings in clinical studies with lithium in “mania”, “depression”, “recurrent endogenous affective disorders” (prophylactic and maintenance treatment), and in “other psychiatric disorders” are discussed. The book concludes in chapter sixteen with an “overview” of therapeutic and prophylactic trials with lithium in psychiatric patients. The 21 chapters are authored by 21 contributors (in alphabet): Leslie Baer, James E. Barrett, John M. Davis, Michael H. Ebert, Khaled El-Yousef, Ronald R. Fieve, Eitan Friedman, Samuel Gershon, Michael D. Goldfield, Frederick K. Goodwin, David S. Janowsky, Gerald L.Klerman, Nathan S. Kline, J. Mendels, Joseph J. Schildkraut, Mogens Schou, Baron Shopsin, Iver  S. Small, Joyce G. Small, Morton R. Weinstein,  and E.J.P. Williams.     

ONE OF THE EDITOR’S STATEMENT: This book published in 1973, 40 years ago, was the first Textbook on lithium therapy and research. It was edited by Samuel Gershon, MD, and Baron Shopsin, MD; but it included important contributions from the whole group that made up Gershon’s Neuropsychopharmacology Research Unit in the department of psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine. It also included findings of lithium research conducted by members of the Unit in collaboration with members of other departments of the University. There was participation from medicine and endocrinology in studying kidney function, thyroid function and the strange response of leucocytosis that had no untoward effects but was posited eventually, as a treatment for low white blood cell count with cancer treatment. A series of studies were undertaken with neurology. Dr. Gordon Johnson a research fellow from Australia with Gershon’s Unit was primarily responsible for these studies and particularly for some interesting electroencephalography studies which could detect early onset of toxicity. The Unit already had set up a Lithium Clinic which treated outpatients and provided the follow up for discharged inpatients. In the early1970s there was a burgeoning interest in using lithium therapy, so this Text was an attempt to provide some of the available information on findings in treatment and research with the substance to that date. Editors felt that it contributed to generation of interest for using lithium by clinicians. We are pleasantly surprised that this may indeed be the case as it has been reprinted twice and the latest was in 2013. 

Samuel Gershon

January 30, 2014