Description: Psychiatric diagnoses as represented in the DSM-IV are similar to what the classification of animals and plants was prior to Darwin and the theory of evolution: there are no foundational or fundamental principles to guide the categorization. By design, the DSMs have been atheoretical with the intention of improving the reliability of psychiatric diagnoses. Unfortunately, the validity of the diagnoses has not improved. The DSMs have not been able to "carve nature at its joints." The brain, which is the final common pathway for all behavior, is not organized according to DSM-IV. This interesting new book reviews a fresh conceptualization: the dimensional approach to the classification of psychopathology. The chapters in this book were first published in a supplement to the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, which grew out of a conference focused on the dimensional approach to psychiatric diagnosis and part of the review process in the development of DSM-V. Written and edited by a group of internationally recognized researchers in the field, these reviews present an important and compelling justification for the use of dimensions, at least as a supplement, to the categorical diagnosis of psychopathology.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to inform clinicians and researchers about a "new, quantitative methodology that will transform diagnosis and represents the next stage in the evolution of DSM."
Audience: Clinicians and researchers in psychiatry and related field are the intended audience.
Features: The first chapter provides an overview of dimensional approaches in psychiatric classification, followed by an appraisal of the use of categories and dimensions in clinical and research contexts. The next several chapters address the use of dimensions in the various clinical domains including substance dependence, major depressive episode, psychosis, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and developmental psychopathology. The concluding chapter proposes the use of a dimensional option for the next DSM. Each chapter ends with citations of the relevant scientific literature.
Assessment: This informative new book details the dimensional approach to psychiatric nosology. Clinicians actually do not treat patients according to the DSM categories (or the diagnostic criteria) but rather use the heuristic of target symptoms. Clinicians and researchers who are interested in understanding the rationale for the modifications proposed in the next iteration of the DSM should read this book.