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April 1967

A Dynamic Approach to Descriptive PsychiatryPatterns of Symptom Change in Daily Clinical Ratings

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
From the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric institute and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(4):390-398. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730220002002

THE OFFICIAL psychiatric nomenclature gives descriptive psychiatry a bad name. Our present diagnostic categories carry relatively little information about the behavior of the individual patient, and they are not clear guides to treatment. Yet classification of patients is at the heart of clinical research in psychiatry. It is important, for example, in the investigation of the specificity of a given drug to a certain class of patients, or of etiological factors unique to a specific patient group, or physiological concommitants of a particular type of psychopathology.

Systematic clinical ratings are now being used in a variety of attempts to improve methods of classification. These studies are based on the assumption that the individual behaviors of a patient are interrelated and can be accounted for by a relatively small set of causal mechanisms. An adequate theory of human behavior and psychopathology would

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