Currently in the UK we are
in the middle of a long process of attempting to rewrite our mental health
legislation. Needless to say it is creating a great deal of debate and
discussion around many of the controversial aspects. This is a slow process of
change - definitely an evolution of mental health law. As a result of this I
was keen to get hold of "The Evolution of Mental Health Law",
expecting it to be a chronicle of how legislation has developed throughout the
Whoops! I had forgotten rule
number one of book reviewing "Never judge a book by its title". The
Evolution of Mental Health Law is not about the development of legislation
but about the development of a field of study. My initial reaction then was
disappointment. I've got a book that I was not really wanting. But hold on!
Inside are a collection of chapters by many of the movers and shakers in the
study of mental health law. Surely there would be bits to interest me. My
disappointment lessened as I scanned through the contents, giving me a feel for
the breadth of the book's scope - the USA scene, ethics, responsibility and
punishment, critiques of past present and future developments, and therapeutic
jurisprudence. In short, a broad selection of topics giving the individual
reader a wide choice to select from, but probably too wide for it all to appeal
to one person. But yes, many of these were of interest.
With any book made up of
edited chapters there will be some chapters that grab you and some that pass
you by. As I read on this was just such a book for me. I particularly enjoyed
the chapters on therapeutic jurisprudence and psychoanalytic contributions to
mental health law. These chapters grabbed my attention and are well written,
informative and will send me off to chase up other articles to further my
knowledge and thinking. In addition
many of the chapters do not dwell merely on the history of their subject, but
also flag up possible future developments. It's a book that will be invaluable
in a library but probably underused in a personal collection.
© 2002 Simon Gelsthorpe
Simon Gelsthorpe, Consultant Clinical
Psychologist, Bradford U.K.