Whatever happened to interpersonal diagnosis? A psychosocial alternative to DSM-III

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Based on concerns about the scientific and clinical shortcomings of the pending Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III), it is proposed that psychology consolidate its knowledge in the form of an interpersonal behavior taxonomy. It is argued that a substantial body of literature suggests that the most useful aspects of current psychiatric diagnostic schemata are psychosocial in nature and that most diagnoses of “functional mental disorders” are made on the basis of observed interpersonal behavior. A review of social behavior coding models suitable for clinical use and a discussion of how L. S. Benjamin's structural analysis of social behavior could be used for developing an interpersonal nosology are included. The clinical and scientific advantages of such a nosology over traditional psychiatric nomenclature are emphasized. The application of the Benjamin model to clinical practice is illustrated with a brief case history of a 5-yr-old boy, and a specific example of how a DSM-III diagnosis might be translated into this model is given. (69 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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