Williams TA, Katz MM, Shield JA, editors: Recent Advances in the Psychobiology of Depressive Illnesses (1972)

Williams TA, Katz MM, Shield JA, Jr., Editors: Recent Advances in the Psychobiology of the Depressive Illnesses:

Proceedings of a Workshop Sponsored by the Clinical Research Branch
Division of Extramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental HealthWashington: DHEW Publ No. (HSM) 70-9053 DC USGPO: 1972. (389 pages) 

Reviewed by Martin M. Katz

CONTENT: The presentations and topics were presented in six sections:


1.     Biochemistry

There were three panels: the first on Amine Metabolism with presentations by JW Maas, Jan Fawcett and colleagues on catecholamine metabolism in depressive illnesses, the effects of antidepressant and stimulant drugs on brain tyrosine and indoleamine by Arnold Mandell and colleagues and a third on brain serotonin and depressive illness by W. Bunney and colleagues.  These reviews and studies were critiqued by Irwin Kopin.

A second panel was on Electrolyte Metabolism. Presentations of Lithium Metabolism by Leslie Baer et al, on electrolyte changes in the affective disorders by Dennis Murphy et al, and on lithium effects on sodium and body weight in manic depressives was presented by Joseph Tupin. These papers were discussed by John Laragh.

A third panel was on Protein Metabolism. Blake Moore presented on Specific Acidic Proteins of the Nervous System. 


2.     Physiology  

This section was divided into two panels.    The panel on Clinical

Neurophysiology and Psychophysiology had presentations on Auditory Evoked Cortical Response Studies in Depressed Patients by James Satterfield, Central Neurophysiologic Correlates of Depressive Symptomatology by George Heninger, Expectancy Waves in Affective Disorders by Joyce and Iver Small, Differences in Sedative Susceptibility between Types of Depression by Marion Perez-Reyes and a discussion led by Charles Shagass.

The second panel, Sleep Research had presentations by David Hawkins and Joe Mendels on Sleep Research in Depression, Frederick Snyder on NIH Studies of EEG Sleep in affective illness, followed by a discussion led by Harold Williams. 


3.     Endocrinology

Presentations were on the Control of Adrenocortical Function by

Peter Stokes, Cortisol Production and Gonadotrophins in Depression by Ed Sachar and colleagues, Studies on Glucose  Utilization and Insulin Sensitivity by Peter Mueller et al, Clinical and Theoretical Implications of the Enhancement of Imipramine by Arthur Prange et al, and Goiter Detection and Thyroid Indices during Lithium Treatment of Manic Depressives by Ronald Fieve et al. The panel was chaired by David Hamburg and discussion led by Dorothy Krieger.


4.     Classification and Measurement of the Psychopathology of Depression

An invited address by Eli Robins and Samuel Guze on the Primary-Secondary, Endogenous-Reactive and Neurotic-Psychotic Concepts introduced the panel. Following were presentations on the Phenomena of Depression by Roy Grinker, The Depression Inventory by Aaron Beck, Longitudinal Measurement of Depressive Symptoms by William Hargreaves, the Diagnosis Game by Stanley Platman, Suggestions for Selecting Appropriate Depression Subgroups for Biochemical studies by Allan Raskin et al and Implications of Clinical Phenomenology for Research Strategy in the Psychobiology of Affective Disorders by Gerald Klerman.


5.     Projections for Future Research

      Chaired by Seymour Kety, leading figures in the various disciplines presented their views on the kind of research required to solve current problems in the psychobiology of depression, hopefully to be conducted in the near future.  The discussants were: Roy Grinker, Eugene Bliss, David Hamburg, Eli Robins, and Charles Shagass.


6.     Addenda

     The Editors reflect on the Accomplishments of the Conference; Martin Katz on Classification and Measurement of the Psychopathology of Depression; and Thomas Williams on The Need for a Systems Approach in Future Research on the Depressive Illnesses.                     

REVIEWER’S COMMENT: This volume was based on a workshop held in 1969 to review and analyze research that generated new theories about the biology of depression and the manner in which they relate to current concepts of the clinical phenomena of the depressive disorders. The conference was stimulated by the findings of associations between specific dysfunctions in neurochemical, electrolyte and endocrine systems and the manifestation of depressive episodes. Hypotheses developed in small patient sample studies, which linked psychobiological factors to the etiology and manifestation of depressed states were clearly articulated and discussion aimed at how they could be tested in larger samples to advance the science. The discussion included a section on the current classification and measurement of the clinical phenomena of depression and projections by several of the leading thinkers in the field regarding directions of future research.

The conference was noteworthy for informing about the current state of research during that period and served as the basis for designing future projects and identifying areas of potential grant support, e.g., for collaborative studies, for the NIMH program of depression.


Martin M. Katz

April 9, 2015