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From The CriticsReviewer: Diana Marta, BSN, RN (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: If you've ever had difficulty tranlsating the DSM-IV-TR into practical use, this is the book for you. In each diagnostic category, it expands on the symptoms and behaviors unique to that diagnosis by giving clinical examples. It should serve to assist professionals in making differential diagnoses and then allowing them to tailor treatment to these variations.
Purpose: This book is intended as a companion to the DSM-IV-TR, to assist the clinician with its use in the clinical setting. It does an excellent job of providing clear case studies that bring to life the diagnoses and demonstrate their finer distinctions. It goes further and presents treatment options in each case, reinforcing that different individuals may require different interventions.
Audience: This is an excellent reference for any clinician whose job it is to diagnose patients with psychiatric disorders. Because it is so clearly presented, it could easily be used for educational purposes as well. The co-author is also chair of the Task Force on DSM-IV and he and those associated with its development are highly credible. Some of the cases are taken from columns in Hospital and Community Psychiatry, also edited by one of the authors.
Features: The book is organized in a pattern parallel to the DSM-IV-TR. Within each section, it provides a five-axis DSM-IV-TR diagnosis, a discussion of differentials and variations of presentation and how to distinguish them, and recommended treatment options. Its organization is one of its best features and its case studies are well presented. The last chapter tests the reader with examples of complex cases and discussion by each of the authors.
Assessment: Having only recently become involved in making diagnoses, I found this book helpful in elucidating the differences as well as illumiating the gray areas of differential diagnostics. I especially appreciated the emphasis on the necessity for open-ended or revised diagnoses when the onset of symptoms occurs at an early age or the etiology is undetermined. It seems to reinforce the notion that diagnoses are often works in progress rather than set in stone, which also allows for more flexibility in treatment modalities.