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June 5, 1996

Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders

Author Affiliations

University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia

JAMA. 1996;275(21):1687-1688. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530450077042

The first edition (Karasu, 1989) of this monumental handbook grew out of seven years' work by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Task Force on Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders. Evidence from 30 years of increasingly sophisticated epidemiologic, neuroscientific, psychosocial, and clinical studies argued powerfully for such an attempt.

There were, however, significant reservations within the profession. Some feared that a "treatment manual" would oversimplify and that cookbook approaches to notoriously complex sets of human problems deemphasize psychosocial and psychotherapeutic perspectives in favor of neurobiological and pharmacological reductionism. Such approaches further would obscure the individuality of psychiatric patients and downplay the role of clinical judgment. For the most part, the first edition allayed such fears, acknowledging the provisional and still controversial nature of psychiatry's evolving knowledge base.

Like its predecessor, the new edition is pluralistic. It does not represent the official policy of the APA, and it offers, in the editor's words,