By Edward Shorter and Max Fink

RANDOLPH, MA, October 29, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ — Catatonia is a medical condition that begins suddenly and severely – and may end fatally. Proper treatment is the key. It is not a form of “schizophrenia,” and does not respond well to the anti-schizophrenic drugs that many doctors might be inclined to use.

For almost a century, catatonia was buried as a form of schizophrenia. There were no effective treatments for it until the 1930s.

The story of this remarkable medical milestone is highlighted in the new Oxford University Press publication, The Madness of Fear: A History of Catatonia, written by the historian of medicine Edward Shorter and the clinician neuropsychiatrist Max Fink.

This important book will help clinicians and the educated public recognize the disorder and ask for its proper treatment. Clinicians can make patients with catatonia better on a reliable basis. There are not many illnesses in psychiatry that are highly responsive to treatment, but catatonia is one of them.

Patients who are successfully treated can return to their communities. Most of the time, they do not have residual symptoms and do not relapse. “It is a kind of miracle,” say Shorter and Fink. “Even patients who have been in long-term catatonic stupors can go on to have new lives.”

So why has there been so little psychiatric interest in catatonia? In The Madness of Fear, Drs. Shorter and Fink seek to understand why this “vast field of ignorance” exists. In the history of catatonia, they see a remarkable story about how medicine flounders, and then seems to find its way. And it will help doctors, and the public recognize and successfully treat this core illness in psychiatry.

The Madness of Fear:
A History of Catatonia
By Edward Shorter and Max Fink
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-088119-1

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