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
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.