by Allen Frances, Michael B. First, and Harold Alan Pincus, 501 pp, with illus, paper, $35, ISBN 0-88048-430-6, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1995.
Unlike the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), which many will use as a reference tome, and Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-IV, which many will use as a diagnostic handbook, the DSM-IV Guidebook was meant to be read cover to cover. The function of this publication is to give an overview and explanation of how to use DSM-IV and the historical context and controversies from which DSM-IV arose. As a result, most of the criticisms directed at the DSM's criteria-based diagnostic system raised in Philosophical Perspectives on Psychiatric Diagnostic Classification (Baltimore, Md:Johns Hopkins University Press; reviewed in JAMA, December 14,1994) regarding its ahistorical, prototypic approach are addressed.
"... DSM-IV should not be thought of as a bible but rather as a stepping stone to a better system of diagnosis."
The book begins with an exquisite, concise chronicle of psychiatric classification, which underscores the significant historical influences that
Bell CC. DSM-IV Guidebook. JAMA. 1995;274(22):1812. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530220078044