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Book Review

Get the Diagnosis Right: Assessment and Treatment Selection for Mental Disorders

Roger Peele, MD, and Humaira Siddiqi, MD

Published: September 15, 2011

Get the Diagnosis Right: Assessment and Treatment Selection for Mental Disorders

by Jerome S. Blackman, MD. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, New York, NY, 2010, 326 pages, $49.95 (paper).

This book is a superb resource for those wanting to make a psychodynamic diagnosis.

In psychotherapy, the therapist often has to turn to concepts because the empirical information available today is insufficient to adequately answer the question of exactly what to say to the patient. Within psychotherapy sessions, the therapist often finds that the patient does not perfectly fit the narrow methodologies of randomized, blinded, controlled studies. Effective sessions require a clinician to develop constructs that provide syllogisms to meet the infinite possible presentations of the patient. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, is not a resource for useful theories as it deliberately avoids theories. Thus, therapists have to turn to other diagnostic systems to find concepts that will provide guidance for psychotherapy. Psychodynamic concepts have been among the most favored over the past century, in part because psychodynamic constructs have enormous explanatory power.

One of the challenges, however, in applying psychodynamic concepts within therapeutic sessions is those concepts’ complexity. Clinicians need concepts that can be rapidly recalled and used within the session.

Dr Blackman, honored by the American Psychoanalytic Association for his teaching skills, knows how to present material in ways that enhance recall. He begins by dividing psychiatric psychopathology into Deficit Disorders and Conflict Disorders. Beautiful! He elegantly details these categories in such a way that the reader will be able to connect virtually all psychopathology—including its infinite possible presentations—with effective constructs that give direction on how the patient can be helped. Furthermore, Blackman includes very helpful sections on the initial interview and suggestions for what the content of a psychiatric evaluation should be. While Dr Blackman relies primarily on classical concepts, at times he references contemporary literature, if it represents a significant addition to the field.

For those wanting a diagnostic system that rapidly brings psychodynamic concepts into their work with patients, this book will meet that wish.

Roger Peele, MD

Humaira Siddiqi, MD

Author affiliations: George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Dr Peele) and Saint Elizabeths Hospital (Dr Siddiqi), Washington, DC. Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

Volume: 72

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