December 13, 1995

DSM-IV Guidebook

Author Affiliations

Community Mental Health Council University of Illinois College of Medicine and School of Public Health Chicago


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.

JAMA. 1995;274(22):1812. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530220078044

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

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