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Your Brain in Sickness and in Health

It could serve equally as a text book as well as a compelling read.

16 Aug 2017

BOOK REVIEW

Your Brain in Sickness and in Health
The experience of dementia and other brain disorders
By Sid Williams

REVIEWED by CHRIS JOHNSON

Understanding Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other brain disorders is hardly a simple thing for clinicians, let alone for the non-medically trained who are coping with afflicted loved ones.

This book was written for both.

Dr Sid Williams, formerly an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, is a pioneer in providing and developing education and support services for people with dementia and their families.

He was made a Fellow of the Australian Medical Association in 2004, after having served on the AMA’s Committee on Care of Older People between 1995 and 2003.

In 2014, Dr Williams received the Ian Simpson Award from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists for his outstanding service to the community, patients and colleagues.

He has worked for more than 40 years with people suffering dementia.

In short, Dr Williams knows his stuff.

And that is most evident throughout the pages of this book.

Written with clinicians – particularly GPs – in mind as well as the lay reader, this offering does an excellent job of explaining in a straightforward manner the nature of Alzheimer’s disease as well as other brain disorders.

It could serve equally as a text book as well as a compelling read.

Behaviours and experiences are revealed and explained, including numerous accounts of real people and case studies.

With 14 chapters plus a lengthy and detailed references section, the book delves into the topic in some depth.

Yet the clarity of Dr Williams’s prose – his ability to explain a point or present an example in an engaging manner – makes the tome somewhat of a page turner.

Chapters detail the symptoms and treatment of brain disorders but there is also plenty of space dedicated to the way people without dementia perceive, understand and respond to those who are afflicted with it.

A revealing section is Chapter 12, entitled An ill brain in an ill body: Acute confusion – delirium; attention skills and functions.

“When someone’s body is ill, their brain may also be ill,” Dr Williams writes.

“If their brain is ill, they may have difficulty functioning. They may have a pattern of problems and deficits in function that is now called delirium.”

He then goes to some length explaining how people react to the condition, what difficulties it presents and how it is related to other disorders.

By using real life case studies, from his own vast experience, it reads almost like he is unlocking some mysteries of the brain’s most confounding diseases.

The book also touches on false beliefs associated with brain pathology.

Most of the sub-topics throughout all the chapters are quite eye-opening.

At the very least, this book is extremely informative. But it is so much more than that.  

Your Brain in Sickness and in Health is destined to become a trusted go-to volume on the subject of brain disorders.

Dr Williams describes his approach to this work exquisitely in the book’s introduction.

“The general portrait of humankind, whether affected by brain pathology or not, which I hope emerges from this book, is, in my eyes, one of remarkable beauty, grandeur, and subtle texture,” he writes.

“One that weds nature and nurture and has exemplary power in understanding development through life, the potential transcendental qualities of human relationships, human consciousness, and extraordinary human achievements in science, technology, art, and music.

“And this is not to mention ordinary day-to-day individual, family and community life, which is, to my mind, both remarkable and beautiful.”

 


Published: 16 Aug 2017