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Positive Psychiatry

A Clinical Handbook

Edited by Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., and Barton W. Palmer, Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-495-9
  • Item #62495

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Long overdue, Positive Psychiatry provides a rigorous and clinically useful guide to the growing body of research that strongly suggests that positive psychosocial factors such as resilience, optimism, and social engagement are associated with better outcomes, including lower morbidity, greater longevity, and a heightened sense of patient well-being. Because most of the research has been conducted outside of the field of psychiatry, it has had relatively little influence on everyday clinical practice. This volume, written and edited by luminaries in the field, hopes to remedy this situation by introducing clinicians to the guiding principles of positive psychiatry, which hold that mental health cannot be defined as the mere reduction or even elimination of mental illness, and that mental health professionals must focus on more than simply controlling the symptoms of illness.

To that end, the book, while biologically grounded and exhaustively referenced, is also structured and written to be accessible. It includes many useful features:

  • Bulleted outlines of key clinical points are included where appropriate, fostering direct application of positive psychiatry constructs, measures, interventions, and outcomes into clinical practice and training.
  • An abundance of interesting and compelling clinical vignettes illustrate how to incorporate positive psychiatry techniques and treatment strategies into practice.
  • Comprehensive coverage makes this volume the go-to resource for researchers and clinicians seeking an overview and details of what positive psychiatry is, why it is needed, and how to integrate it into research, practice, and training.
  • The roster of contributors is a who's who in the field of positive mental health, rendering this the definitive source of information on positive psychiatry.

Chief among the book's strengths is its emphasis on empirically grounded applications, and the editors have ensured that limitations in the available evidence base are identified, as well as directions for further research. Positive Psychiatry fills a critical gap in the treatment literature, and researchers, clinicians, and trainees in psychiatry and allied mental health fields will welcome its publication.


  • Contributors
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction: What Is Positive Psychiatry?
  • Part I: Positive Psychosocial Factors
  • Chapter 2. Positive Psychological Traits
  • Chapter 3. Resilience and Posttraumatic Growth
  • Chapter 4. Positive Social Psychiatry
  • Part II: Positive Outcomes
  • Chapter 5. Recovery in Mental Illnesses
  • Chapter 6. What Is Well-Being?
  • Chapter 7. Clinical Assessments of Positive Mental Health
  • Part III: Interventions in Positive Psychiatry
  • Chapter 8. Positive Psychotherapeutic and Behavioral Interventions
  • Chapter 9. Positivity in Supportive and Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Chapter 10. Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine Interventions
  • Chapter 11. Preventive Interventions
  • Chapter 12. Integrating Positive Psychiatry Into Clinical Practice
  • Part IV: Special Topics in Positive Psychiatry
  • Chapter 13. Biology of Positive Psychiatry
  • Chapter 14. Positive Child Psychiatry
  • Chapter 15. Positive Geriatric and Cultural Psychiatry
  • Chapter 16. Bioethics of Positive Psychiatry
  • Index


    Per Bech, M.D., D.M.Sc.
    Carl C. Bell, M.D., DLFAPA, FACPsych
    Dan G. Blazer, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
    Samantha Boardman, M.D.
    Anne M. Day, Ph.D.
    Colin A. Depp, Ph.D.
    P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D.
    Lisa T. Eyler, Ph.D.
    Maja K. Gawronska, M.A.
    Alexandrea L. Harmell, M.S.
    Leslie R. M. Hausmann, Ph.D.
    Dilip V. Jeste, M.D.
    Christopher W. Kahler, Ph.D.
    Robert M. Kaplan, Ph.D.
    Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D.
    Warren A. Kinghorn, M.D., Th.D.
    Evan M. Kleiman, Ph.D.
    Helen Lavretsky, M.D., M.S.
    Julie A. Lord, M.D.
    Maria J. Marquine, Ph.D.
    A'verria Sirkin Martin, Ph.D.
    Brent T. Mausbach, Ph.D.
    Piper S. Meyer, Ph.D.
    Paul J. Mills, Ph.D.
    Raeanne C. Moore, Ph.D.
    Ruth M. O'Hara, Ph.D.
    Barton W. Palmer, Ph.D.
    Acacia C. Parks, Ph.D.
    David C. Rettew, M.D.
    Christine Rufener, Ph.D.
    Elyn R. Saks; J.D., Ph.D.
    Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.
    Daniel D. Sewell, M.D.
    Ajai R. Singh, M.D.
    Wendy B. Smith, M.A., Ph.D., BCB
    Nichea S. Spillane, Ph.D.
    Richard F. Summers, M.D.
    George E. Vaillant, M.D.
    Taya C. Varteresian, D.O., M.S.
    Katherine Wachmann, Ph.D.
    Zvinka Z. Zlatar, Ph.D.

About the Authors

Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., is Senior Associate Dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care; Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging; Director, Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging; and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California.

Barton W. Palmer, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla, California.

A wonderful shift in psychiatry and mental health care is upon us. In addition to addressing the suffering that psychiatric illness inflicts on our patients, we can also embrace strategies to help others pursue mental health and well-being, an arena not often addressed in psychiatric care. Discovery of the roots of resilience, the benefits of gratitude, and ways to engage PERMA: positive emotion, engagement, good relationships, meaning, and accomplishment, are some of the offerings available in this book. Rooted in positive psychology but transformed in this well-written tome, this new approach to healing is timely and welcome. We stand to have our field, in addition to our individual patients and ourselves, flourish.—Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Vice-Chair for Education, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University

This thought provoking book is a wakeup call for all mental health professionals. It makes a compelling case for the clinical approach in psychiatry to shift from an emphasis on disease models to positive psychiatry. In this creatively compiled volume, the contributors highlight the endeavors of mental health clinicians to go beyond just symptom control to promote a sense of wellbeing. Spread over 16 chapters, the editors have introduced a road map to facilitate this shift while deliberating on a broad range of clinical and ethical facets of the concept of Positive Psychiatry, applicable across the age spectrum. This is, indeed, essential reading for every clinician.—Vihang N. Vahia, M.D., Professor Emeritus of PsychiatryMumbai, India

This book gives mental health professionals an impetus to rethink the principles of psychiatry. Modern psychiatry has focused on diagnostics and therapeutics rather than on prevention of mental illnesses. The mission of medicine is not only to treat diseases but also to provide patients with wisdom to positively live through their destiny. This book will have a great impact not just on psychiatric but also on overall medical education, leading toward a new medical model.—Shigeto Yamawaki, M.D., Ph.D., CINP President

Just as the absence of disease does not imply good physical health, the absence of distress does not imply good mental health. This volume seeks to redefine modern psychiatry as a discipline that not only treats illness but promotes well-being. The contributions of the distinguished group of scientists Jeste and Palmer have assembled will broaden and improve the field.—Laura L. Carstensen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, and the Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy Director, Stanford Center on Longevity

Jeste and Palmer have created an elegant text emphasizing psychiatry as a profession that not only addresses the suffering of the most unfortunate, but also seeks to foster optimal health among all people. The authors, in a way both scientifically and conceptually sound, advance our understanding of human well-being, resilience, and illness prevention. In a time in which the dystopian narrative pervades in society, it is rare that a clinical text can inspire hope. Yet this book does. It enables us, as clinicians, to imagine a future in which patients flourish, and we are able to serve them better through enhanced skills and a renewed mindset of strength and optimism.—Laura Roberts, M.D., M.A., Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor and Chairman Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine

Reductionistic paradigms are used to generate knowledge in psychiatry creating a challenge for clinical application in a broad and humanistic framework. Positive psychiatry informs a clinical approach to persons with a mental disorder or at high risk for developing psychopathology. While the World Health Organization gives emphasis to quality of life years, health care in the United States falls far short of an effective focus on promotion of well-being. Positive psychiatry, as defined and richly described in this text, provides clear guidance for a paradigm shift in psychiatry. While maintaining the field's central focus on mental disorder, clinical care implications go beyond diagnosis and treatment. The additional emphasis on positive psychosocial factors including resiliency, optimism, social engagement, and personal strengths have broad implications for health in general, and alleviation of suffering and dysfunction associated with mental disorders. It also provides a broad and friendly model for addressing high risk patients as the field moves rapidly towards early detection and intervention. Positive Psychiatry is a wonderful read at a time when clinical practice in psychiatry is restricted in time and definition of role.—William T. Carpenter, Jr., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine

The book is well-written and well-structured in easily accessible and short chapters, each of which is followed by a summary and a list of clinical key points. Positive Psychiatry encourages us to rethink psychiatry and offers a compelling new paradigm to treatment, not only in psychiatry, but in medicine in general. I can warmly recommend this book.—N. Okkels, Psychitric Resident and Research Assistant, Department of Affective Disorders, Aahurs University Hospital, Risskov, Denmark

The editors and authors of Positive Psychiatry: A Clinical Handbook discuss pertinent background information on positive psychology, psychological assessment tools, and interventions. The book is easy to follow, and the authors of the various chapters include Clinical Key Points or bulleted concise information that serve as a check-in for readers to ensure they are able to acquire main chapter points. Overall, this handbook accomplishes its goal of providing psychiatrists and other mental health professionals with a great overview of positive psychology.—Alan M. Gross and Lauren N. Weathers, PsycCRITIQUES, 12/28/2015

Positive Psychiatry: A Clinical Handbook a valuable and needed addition to the literature in our field. Educators will find a user-friendly resource for adding material on positive psychiatry to their curricula. Clinicians will find both guidance in expanding the range of their interventions, as well as strong theoretical and research support for the positive interventions they have already been implicitly practicing.—Dr. Adam M. Brenner, Professor of Psychiatry, Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Vice Chair for Education in Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Journal of Psychiatric Practice Vol. 22, No. 6, 11/30/2016

The handbook is very well written, carefully edited and 'reader-friendly'. Each chapter concludes with clinical key points, and where applicable, the text includes clinical vignettes, which illustrate practical applications of theoretical concepts. In addition to a detailed general index, each chapter ends with suggested cross-references to other chapters, and includes a list of additional suggested readings (and websites). Of special interest to the Australian and New Zealand readers are references to recovery programs and government-supported recovery oriented-services developed in these countries. Research at the Centre for the Mind in Sydney is mentioned in regard to research on neurocircuitry of positive psychological traits, and the ReachOut program is provided as an example of cultivating resiliency and health behaviour involving change in the social fabric and collective efficacy... The handbook can be recommended for clinicians, researchers, as well as consumers and carers. It is a significant step towards a broader vision of psychiatry, evolving 'from just the alleviation of misery to the building of well-being' (Jeste & Palmer, 2015, p. xix).—Karolina Krysinska, Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Advances in Mental Health: Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention, 1/17/2017

This is a great supplement to the literature of mental health. It provides mental health clinicians with an incentive to rethink the principles of psychiatry, with clear guidelines for a paradigm shift. In addition, it encourages clinicians to focus on prevention of mental illness rather than only on diagnosis and treatment. The book institutes hope and enables clinicians to imagine a future in which patients flourish, and psychiatrists become better equipped to serve them.—Laura Gonzalez-Conty, M.D., Doody's Book Review

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