Sunday, 11 December 2011

the cockroach catcher



‘The ability to dissect out a full set of cockroach salivary glands was a prerequisite requirement for medical school entrance in Hong Kong in our days.’


I purchased Dr Am Ang Zhangs’ book last November and placed it at the bottom of my ‘to read’ pile – I should not have done so.

Holidaying earlier this year – I decided that ‘the cockroach catcher’ would be my holiday read (even though it was still only half way up the pile) – it was a good decision.

Am Ang takes you on a fine journey from his poor beginnings in China to his education in Hong Kong, his life and experience at medical school, his decision to enter psychiatry leading to a post as registrar at The Tavistock Clinic  and to his role as a consultant paediatric psychiatrist within the NHS (and many interesting places in between). 

Dr Zhang had a common sense approach to the children in his care, intuitively finding the answer to their problems, cases ranging from sleep and toileting problems to those of anorexia, autism and psychosis - although towards the end of his career, red tape and ‘guidelines’ were to impact on his practice.

His book also gives insight as to how we as parents may influence the mental health of our children and how childhood is being medicalised when behaviours are due to lack of parental authority and/or guidance and are not psychiatric illness at all.

Although the back cover summary describes the book as a work of fiction, the contents are based on a good and a very real doctors’ journey through medicine.  It is a must read for all those either working in medicine or interested in child psychiatry and indeed childhood itself, and an invaluable read for parents who have concerns regarding their children’s mental health.

It is a fascinating well penned book with references documented in the footnotes and is available from  Amazon.  Visit the cockroach catcher here

Anna :o]

2 comments:

Frances Garrood said...

It does worry me that so many difficult children are given labels (ie they're medicalised) rather than understanding. Labelling of anyone is very dangerous.

(I don't know anything about cockroaches.)

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Frances ~ labelling of anyone is dangerous indeed and especially when we allow our children to be so - rather than admit that we ourselves are making mistakes.

Anna Lo]