Description: A clinical instructor in psychiatry at the New York University Medical Center authors this guide, based on his personal clinical experiences with patients with personality disorders.
Purpose: The author's view is that while it is clinically useful to place personality disorders into categories, it can be detrimental if practitioners become complacent and satisfied with static categories when in reality these patients are deep and complex. The book first examines the spectrum of personality disorders, then looks at the intersection of axis I and II, and, finally, addresses treatment issues.
Audience: Mental healthcare professionals working with patients suffering from personality disorders are the intended audience, although it seems the book is geared more towards psychiatrists in training.
Features: After an initial chapter on general considerations, which appropriately gives a framework for the remainder of the book by describing the 10 specific classifications of personality disorders and how they fit into the three commonly used clusters of A, B, and C, the rest of the first section examines each specific personality disorder. Section II focuses on the intersection of axis I and axis II diagnoses, examining major depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, dementia, and eating disorders. Section III discusses treatment issues, examining the clusters individually and summarizing some key points in each group. It then continues on to look at gender prevalence within personality disorders and how cultural issues intersect with personality disorders. It includes an excellent discussion of substance abuse, PTSD, and somatoform disorders within personality disorders, while also examining the role of medical problems in this complex patient population. The book closes with an explanation of the movement towards a dimensional model of conceptualizing these patients and examining treatment difficulties. Finally, an appendix includes DSM-IV TR criteria for each disorder.
Assessment: Part of the Practical Guides in Psychiatry series, the book is printed on paper that makes margin annotation easy for students or residents. It uses real case histories and vignettes, effectively bringing to life each dynamic personality disorder without simply concentrating on static criteria and categories. Section II provides practical clinical information describing the challenges of the intersection between axis I and II, and section III provides excellent practical clinical considerations in the treatment of patients with these disorders. This is an excellent quick read for any resident or student and is on a par with the other books in the series.