August 2, 1971

The Diagnostic Interview

Author Affiliations

Nebraska Psychiatric Institute Omaha


by Ian Stevenson, ed 2; 281 pp, 12 illus, $6, New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

JAMA. 1971;217(5):700. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190050156029

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This is a second edition of the author's well-received Medical History Taking (Hoeber, 1960), with a new title; the emphasis is on interviewer/interviewee relationship. The depth interview is presented as an optimum approach, appropriate to investigation of life styles and related psychophysiological disturbances. Particular attention is given to means of eliciting correlations between stresses and symptoms. Dr. Stevenson deserves great praise for his careful presentation of the importance and relevance of all aspects of the prenatal period; also laudable is his all-too-brief discussion of the use of language. The section on family history is very good, and includes a rapid method of sketching a family-tree diagram which would be useful in any routine workup.

The psychiatrist-author urges the interviewer to maximize the values of both directive and nondirective methods, alternating these as may seem appropriate. A few of his suggested questions may appear to confirm patient delusions, an approach not