Description: This is an interesting new book covering the difficult problems of the validity of the DSM categories in general and in psychotic disorders classification in particular. The DSM since DSM-III has certainly improved the reliability of the categories, but unfortunately psychiatry has made little headway in the validation of the DSM categories. The DSM categories have been analogous to the classification of animal and plants prior to Darwin, which is to say, they are not biologically based classifications. Classification based on mainly description is prone to error - a whale may be classified as a fish, or edema (dropsy) thought of as a single disease. This book, which grew out of a conference entitled "Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Refining the Research Agenda" held in Arlington, VA, in 2006, summarizes the contemporary research on psychosis. The book was written and edited by researchers in the field and adds important ideas to the current conceptualization of psychiatric illnesses.
Purpose: The purpose is to describe the way psychiatric phenomena are currently represented and how DSM-V might help improve diagnostic validity.
Audience: The intended audience includes "psychiatrists, psychologists, and other clinicians and researchers striving to bring symptom relief to patients."
Features: Topics include a general discussion of the validity of schizophrenia; biological, life course, and cross-cultural studies in regards to dimensional and developmental ratings; issues of classification of psychotic major depression; classification of mood disorders; substance abuse and psychosis comorbidity; genetic markers; cognitive impairment as a classifier; the search for endophenotypes in psychotic disorders; brain imaging and classification; and differential neuropharmacological responses as a means for classification. Each chapter concludes with relevant and contemporary citations of the scientific literature.
Assessment: This book presents important summaries of the current state of the validity of the DSM classification of psychotic disorders. Unfortunately, most of these ideas have not been widely disseminated among mental health practitioners with the continued misconception that the DSM represents "nature carved at its joints." This book makes it clear that we are far from a Darwinian paradigm shift in psychiatry.