Psychiatric Diagnosis

The Primary Psychiatric Syndromes: Criteria for Clinical Diagnosis. By Dwight L. Moody, L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S., L.R.F.P.S., D.P.M. Foreword by William Blyth. M.D., F.R.F.P.S.G., D.P.M., B.L., LL.B. (Pp. 356+xiv. 37s. 6d.). Bristol: John Wright and Sons Ltd. 1956.

British Medical Journal, 3 August 1957, p. 278. 

Over the last 50 years there have been changes in both directions in the status of psychiatric diagnosis. While some syndromes, such as that of temporal-lobe epilepsy, have emerged and are becoming increasingly clearly recognizable, there has also been a tendency to abandon diagnosis as a discipline which is no longer rewarding. Instead of diagnosis, with its implications for prognosis and therapy, it has been held more important to understand developmentally in all its complexities the patient's personality. The disadvantage of this approach is its tendency to lead to vagueness and woolliness of thought. Dr. Moody attempts to get back to classical medical methods of classification and to the delineation of established syndromes; he enumerates in great detail, and in a highly schematized form, the observations in history and examination which will enable a particular diagnosis to be made. The book is a salutary attempt to get away from the "insubstantial and abysmal" dynamic study of individual patients in vacuo; and it will certainly, as is claimed, help to protect the young practitioner from becoming bewildered. Its defects are that its form resembles that of a cram book and does not encourage the student to think for himself, and that the concepts which are inevitably used ("introversion," etc.) are themselves so imprecise as to render such a precise formulation at times almost meaningless.