Psychology of Voice Disorders, 2nd edn

Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

After months of inactivity, it was a pleasure to open a real hard copy textbook for review and to try to get the intellect stimulated once more. These publishers have made what must be a unique contribution to the literature relevant to both audiology and speech and language pathology, whilst also ensuring that their releases appeal to the trainee or general ENT practitioner. The authors of this book are a clinical psychologist, a resident in psychiatry and a surgeon very well known in otolaryngology (it turns out he has authored no fewer than 67 books, many of which have been reviewed here).

The title of the book is probably enough to describe its content, but do read on. Early in our careers, we all learnt to recognise the ‘immobile vocal folds’ that proved perfectly capable of adduction with coughing. This presentation was usually associated with a patient convinced of an underlying cancer. Once the truth was apparent and reassurance provided, we would happily entrust care to our colleagues in speech and language therapy, relying on them to get to the bottom of all this, and we rarely heard further.

Indeed, the preface tells us that this book is primarily aimed at psychological professionals, for whom we get the inevitable introductory chapters on the basic sciences, with some very familiar diagrams. It is 20 years since the publication of the first edition and it is indeed surprising that this remains the only book dedicated to such a commonly presented topic. The preface is particularly helpful in showing where chapters are largely unchanged, or where they have been thoroughly updated and revised (the vast majority in practice). This edition adds a new chapter on research methodology hoping to inspire psychological professionals, with another new one on trauma and the voice.

Remembering the target audience, it is understandable that there is a lengthy chapter on ‘Common Medical Diagnoses and Treatments in Patients with Voice Disorders’, in other words without a mention of problems originating above the tentorium cerebelli. However, a chapter on the psychiatric disorders induced by commonly prescribed ENT medication is food for thought. Who knew that Lansoprazole could cause hallucinations? The subsequent chapter addresses drugs that are intended to be psychoactive, but also affect voice.

Psychological assessment and co-morbid psychotherapy we will probably leave to the experts, however. The text wanders back into organic disorders, for example neurological disease or cancer, again appropriate to the planned readership, which will surely be more at home with stress management, performance anxiety and psychotherapeutic management. A closing chapter on ‘Perceived Voice Loss in Professional Voice users’ was one to highlight I felt. It used several case studies to amplify the lessons of the book.

This remains the only text covering the message of its title, and it clearly has been thoroughly and commendably updated. I doubt it will drive many of us to drop the endoscope and become amateur Sigmund Freuds, but it will give a better idea of what the experts do actually get up to.

Amazon Link: Psychology of Voice Disorders, 2nd edn
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