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The German version of this work has a long tradition, and this fourth edition is the first to see an English version. Its main feature is the international approach regarding both authors and topics. The four internationally renowned editors were able to acquire the leading specialists for each field as contributors to the book. No less than 120 authors, half of them from non-German speaking countries, ensure an extremely high standard and that cross-cultural aspects are considered. Another major feature is that the book presents the evidence such that it may be examined from at least four different entry points -- via basic disciplines of psychiatric knowledge about groups defined by demographic criteria. Detailed linkages to other chapters allow the inclusion of neighbouring disciplines, such as the neurosciences and molecular biology. Contemporary Psychiatry is also unique in including chapters on psychiatric disorders caused by catastrophes, disasters etc. -- aspects totally neglected by normal textbooks. While this book gives an overall view of the state of the art of psychiatric knowledge, it even goes so far as to suggest future perspectives.