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Review of "DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders"

By Michael B. First and Allan Tasman
John Wiley & Sons, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Dec 30th 2004
DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders

DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders is a large book at 1323 pages of main text.  It is closely parallel to DSM-IV-TR and uses material from Psychiatry (Second Edition) edited by Allan Tasman, Jerry Kay and Jeff Lieberman (John Wiley, 2003).  The first three chapters are devoted to diagnosis, etiology and treatment respectively, and the subsequent 43 chapters cover the mental disorders as categorized in contemporary psychiatry. 

The book is aimed at mental health professionals but is written in reasonably accessible language so other people accustomed to the vernacular of psychiatry might also find it useful. To give one example, in the chapter on sleep disorders, the book explains the criteria for primary insomnia, then gives a very short explanation that the causes are unclear, and then discusses the various treatments available, with tables setting out rules for sleep hygiene, sleep restriction therapy, the clinical characteristics of sleep medication and the comparative properties of long and short half-life medications.  Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is classified as a mood disorder and a box lists the DSM-IV-TR criteria, and a section on epidemiology says that irritability is the most common premenstrual syndrome.  A page discusses the epidemiology of PMDD and a longer section sets out the various treatment options, which are summarized in a flow chart.

The information contained in these main sections is backed by references to the psychiatric literature so it is very likely to be reliable and accurate.  It is presented in easily accessible form, and it may be useful to clinicians and even patients.  Given the systematic fashion in which the facts are laid out, this book may be easier to use than other multi-author textbooks where there is more variety in approach from chapter to chapter.  Inevitably, despite the length of the book, it cannot be exhaustive in its discussion of every possible cause and treatment for every disorder, and it is precisely for the rarer disorders that clinicians will probably need to consult textbooks, since they will be already familiar with etiology and treatment of main mental illnesses.  Nevertheless, given the vast psychiatric literature, it is useful to have the latest research summarized in one place. 

Given that one of the principle authors of this book, Michael First, is likely to play a major role in the creation of DSM-V, the first chapter on diagnosis is of particular interest.  It provides a rationale and history of psychiatric classification in its first seven pages that might be especially helpful for those looking for a brief account of the current state and the likely future of our diagnostic categories for mental disorders. 


© 2004 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.