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From The CriticsReviewer: Howard M. Kravitz, DO, MPH (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). This official nomenclature is based on a categorical approach using defined criteria sets for classifying mental disorders.
Purpose: Its threefold purpose is to serve clinical, research, and educational functions. Primarily, it provides guidelines for making diagnoses in clinical practice. Additional goals are to provide a nomenclature system for facilitating research and improving communication among clinicians and researchers and to function as an educational tool for teaching psychopathology. Efforts were made to coordinate its development with that of the ICD-10 to increase compatibility between the two systems. The book reflects a consensus "grounded in empirical evidence" and continues to use a multiaxial system and a descriptive approach that is neutral with respect to theories of etiology.
Audience: Its broad audience includes psychiatrists, other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, counselors, and other health and mental health professionals.
Features: Appendix A consists of six decision trees that are useful for understanding the organizational and hierarchical structure used in DSM-IV. Other interesting features are examples of rating scales that may help define new axes for the multiaxial system, glossaries of technical terms and of culture-bound syndromes, and a listing of major changes from DSM-III-R. References were omitted from this book; the documentation and reference record will comprise a separate publication, the DSM-IV Sourcebook.
Assessment: Structurally and content-wise this expanded update (more than 300 pages longer than DSM-III-R) of the APA's official nomenclature indeed provides an information-packed and functionally useful text for clinical practice, research, and education. Although the question of whether this text was really necessary at this time remains, this is not the forum for continuing the debate. Bottom line, libraries should have at least one copy available. Moreover, it is a must for any bookstore with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals as customers. DSM-IV is an essential text and is destined to be a best seller.