Friday, August 29, 2008

Review: Shrink Rap

Summary: If you want to simultaneously learn about Child Psychiatry, laugh, cry, and skeet shoot, then Shrink Rap – An Irreverent Take on Child Psychiatry, is the book for you. Child Psychiatry is a growing field which has managed to capture our imagination, and whose vernacular has crept into the English language. If someone mentions that his or her child has ADHD, we all have a vague idea of what this means. If we want to learn more, we are confronted with ponderous tomes, more likely to cure insomnia than to explain the presentation of Childhood Depression.

There are plenty of parenting books on the market. Shrink Rap – An Irreverent Take on Child Psychiatry is not a parenting book. It’s a fun book, meant for people who want more information about child psychiatry a chapter at a time. A chapter before bed, a chapter while waiting for a kid’s piano lesson to finish….perhaps a chapter on the toilet (depending on how much fiber one eats).
Shrink Rap – An Irreverent Take on Child Psychiatry is a fun look at topics in Child Psychiatry written in a light-hearted style, and full of anecdotes about patients and families (including the author’s own), which illustrate points while making mothers feel that they are not so alone. It covers topics such as “ADHD,” “Anxiety Disorders,” “Psychosis,” and, of course “Childcare i.e. Leaving Your Child with Nut Jobs."

Shrink Rap – An Irreverent Take on Child Psychiatry, is written by a child and adolescent psychiatrist with 20 years of experience in psychiatry, but more importantly, 15 years of experience in motherhood. It demystifies the field, while answering the important questions, “Are all children of child psychiatrists nuts?,” “Are child psychiatrists insane?,” and “Why the heck would anyone go into this field?” -- Author House

One thing that I love about having this blog is that I sometimes hear from authors and publishers who want to send me a book because they think I might enjoy it. Many times, I probably wouldn't have heard of this book or even picked it out to read. That was exactly the case with SHRINK RAP -- AN IRREVERENT TAKE ON CHILD PSYCHIATRY by Robin A. Altman, MD. But when Dr. Altman asked me to take a look at her book, I thought it looked kind of interesting.

Normally, a book about child psychology wouldn't really interest me unless I was looking for some help or some specific answers about one of my children. However, Dr. Altman's slant on child psychology; and the description of this book appealed to me. In the past, I have found myself laughing about "psycho-babble" and even questioning parts of it, but I have to admit that I was intrigued by a child psychologist who uses humor as a regular part of her job.

While I did find this book very entertaining, I also learned a lot about childhood mental illness and the medicine used to treat them. Each chapter is relatively short and deals with a brief description of the various disorders. The book is very easy to read, and I think it's a great start to learning more about childhood psychological issues. Having said that, it is definitely not the end all, be all book on these illnesses.

You know how you can sometimes read a book about diseases, and pretty soon you start thinking you have the symptoms for a variety of illnesses (I took a Health course in college; and for a semester, we all thought we had every disease that we studied.) Well, as I read each chapter, I felt sympathy towards the families dealing with these issues; but I didn't think they related to me or my children. I kept checking off each disorder in my mind -- nope, they don't have that one, this one either, doesn't pertain to me, etc. I was feeling pretty good... until the last few chapters. That's when I got to the section on "Oppositional Defiant Disorder" or ODD for short. Uh oh -- some of this sounds pretty darn familiar! Dr. Altman says that ODD is "a fancy term for bratty kid" -- check. She also says that "Kids with ODD have frequent temper tantrums and argue constantly with adults" -- another check! "They never take responsibility for their behavior" -- we have three checks now. "Oppositional Defiant kids do things to deliberately annoy others" -- I'm freaking out at this point. Can you tell that it's been a really bad week and my kids are picking on each other a lot?

Seriously, I know my kids don't have ODD; and I'm probably not alone in having kids that exhibit these traits some of the time. If I even was really considering this disorder, Dr. Altman does a fantastic job of really getting to the knitty, gritty about these various behavioral issues. I'm just really impressed how she is able to teach the reader about child psychology while also making the book fun to read.

Dr. Altman is a very funny woman who seems to know her stuff (if you believe that I can really judge that.) Her stories and insights are probably so entertaining because they are so true. There were many times in this book where I found myself giggling. I know it sounds kind of weird that I was laughing at a book that deals with childhood mental illness, but it really was a funny book. I look at it this way: I have often times said that if I don't laugh at something my kids did, I will definitely cry. I think Dr. Altman sees so many terrible situations in her day-to-day job; and she has decided that she can cope with them better if she laughs. I love how she is able to poke fun at her profession, her family, and even herself. It's easy to see how she can put her patients at ease with her incredible sense of humor.

I thoroughly enjoyed SHRINK RAP, and I definitely recommend it to parents who want to learn a little more about child psychology. One thing I gained from reading this book is that I understand these childhood disorders a little more. I hope it will help me be more tolerant and accepting of children with behavioral problems. Come to think of it, the book might be wonderful for people who work with or spend a lot of time with kids.


Anonymous said...

This book sounds perfect for me. I'm a school psychologist and would love to read this one. Thanks for the review.

Cheryl said...

I like the cover. Good review

Jeane said...

This sounds like a good book. I always learn about things better if the author manages to make it humorous.

LisaMM said...

Julie, I enjoyed this book too, for all the same reasons. I actually haven't finished it (about 2/3rds done) but have it in my car for when I have a few minutes to read. I was also briefly convinced my kids have ODD (LOL!!) but I think we're on each other's nerves. It's probably the fault of just a bit too much togetherness for all of us after a long summer. Time to go back to school and get back on a routine.

Jeffrey said...

Great book. hilarious and helpful. I found it on Amazon.

Robin said...

Julie, thank you for the wonderful review, but most of all thank you for laughing at my jokes. Oh, and, by the way, I just hired you to be my PR person. Let's start bright and early Tuesday, shall we?