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Review of "Psychopathology"

By W. Edward Craighead, David J. Miklowitz, and Linda W. Craighead
Wiley, 2008
Review by Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D. on Dec 22nd 2009

The book has 41 contributors, both in the fields of psychology and psychiatry.  The book consists of eighteen chapters, including: "Issues in diagnosis: Categorical vs. dimensional"; "Social anxiety disorder"; "Bipolar disorder"; "Alcohol use disorders: History, theory, and diagnosis"; "Psychopathy and psychopathology: Key developments in etiology, assessment, and treatment"; and "Borderline personality disorder".   The book also includes a preface, author index, and subject index.

The editors write that the book "provides a basic description and evaluation of clinical theory and research regarding psychopathology" (Craighead, Miklowitz, & Craighead, 2008, p. xi).  The book is intended to be "an advance text for psychopathology courses taught to graduate students" in psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, and other mental health professions (Craighead et al., 2008, p. xi).  The book reaches both of these goals. 

Chapter 1, "Issues in diagnosis: Categorical vs. dimensional" includes sections on the functions of psychiatric diagnosis, misconceptions regarding psychiatric diagnosis, a discussion of what defines a "mental disorder", a history of psychiatric classification from Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders I (DSM-I) to the present, criticisms of DSM-IV, and future directions of the DSM.  The authors write that the DSM-III-R and DSM-IV "have been disappointments as they have not resolved many of serious [sic] problems endemic to DSM-III" (Lilienfeld & Landfield, p. 23).  The DSM-IV-TR (2000) is not mentioned in the chapter, although the DSM-V is mentioned as having a "projected publication date in 2011" (Lilienfeld & Landfield, p. 23).  Since this book has been published, the DSM-V is now estimated to be released in May 2012 (APA, 2009).

Chapter 6, "Social Anxiety Disorder", has sections titled "Description of the Disorder", "Actual Dysfunction", and "Summary and Future Directions".  "Description of the Disorder" includes a case example, the history of the disorder, and the epidemiology.  "Actual Dysfunction" includes information on the genetics and neurobiology of the disorder, psychosocial dysfunction, and assessment of the disorder.  The section of the chapter regarding genetics and neurobiology contains detailed information on the familial occurrence of social anxiety disorder in twin studies, the role of dopamine and serotonin in the disorder, and specific brain regions which might be implicated in social anxiety disorder. 

Chapter 10, "Bipolar Disorder", has sections titled "Description of the Disorder", "Etiology, Risk Factors, and Protective Factors: The Biopsychosocial Perspective", "Psychosocial Predictors of the Course of Bipolar Disorder", Diagnostic Assessment", "Treatment: Pharmacotherapy", "Treatment: Psychotherapy", "The STEP-BD Study", and "Summary and Future Directions".  The STEP-BD Study was conducted in 2007 by the lead author of the chapter, in addition to several other researchers.  The study examined the effectiveness of 30 sessions of either interpersonal and social-rhythm therapy, family-focused treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy compared to three sessions of "psychoeducational control intervention", or collaborative care (Miklowitz, Otto, Frank, et al., 2007).  The researchers found that bipolar subjects enrolled in the more intensive therapies were more likely to recover from depression, recovered more rapidly, and were more likely to remain well than subjects enrolled in the collaborative care treatment (Miklowitz, et al., 2007).  

Chapter 14, "Alcohol Use Disorders: History, Theory of Diagnosis", has sections titled "Introduction", "History", "Theory", "Diagnosis", "Treatment", and "Summary and Future Directions".  The introduction to the chapter states "As many as 90% of Americans have had some experiences with alcohol during their lives" (Ray, Hutchison, & Hauser, 2008, p. 495).  However, there is no citation given for the statistic.  The section "Alcohol use disorders in the United States" has interesting and detailed information, including an unbiased comparison of the varying treatment groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Rational Recovery.    The chapter also includes a thorough section regarding studies on alcohol use disorders across cultures. 

Chapter 17, "Psychopathy and psychopathology: Key developments in etiology, assessment, and treatment", has sections titled "Etiology of Psychopathy", "Theories of Psychopathy", "Assessment of Psychopathy", "Treatment of Psychopathy", and "Summary and Future Directions".  The "Etiology of Pathology" section discusses the genetics of psychopathology, including dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex.  The authors detail several studies regarding psychopathology (including antisocial behavior) and tests of frontal lobe dysfunction.  The authors also detail the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in a manner that fairly balances the advantages and controversies of the assessment instrument. 

Chapter 18, "Borderline Personality Disorder", contains sections titled "The Clinical Symptoms of BPD", "History of the Borderline Diagnosis", "Epidemiology and Clinical Aspects", "Current Theoretical Perspectives", "Factors Involved in the Pathogenesis and Maintenance of BPD", "Psychosocial Perspectives", "Cognitive Aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder", "Contemporary Issues in the Diagnosis and Assessment of BPD", "Treatment", and "Summary and Future Directions".  The chapter also includes a table that states it is the DSM-IV criteria for BPD, including a 2000 publication date (the publication date of the DSM-IV-TR).  The reference for the chapter states the DSM is a text revision published in 2000, but it does not give the "4th edition" notation.  The chapter contains a thorough discussion of studies on the genetics of borderline personality disorder, and provides detailed information on the neurochemistry of the disorder, including studies regarding serotonin and cortisol levels. 

In addition to the DSM issue mentioned in the chapter on borderline personality disorder, there are other typographical errors in the book.  "Contributors" is misspelled "Contributers" at the top of page vi and vii.  In addition, a word is missing in a sentence on page 23 and there is a lack of a citation for a statistic on page 495 (both as noted above).  However, the vast majority of the book is without typographical errors.   

Psychopathology: History, diagnosis, and empirical foundations is full of research studies and is well-organized, with each chapter on disorders following the same framework.  This contributes to the book's uniformity and ease of reading.  The book is a helpful companion to a mental health clinician's psychopathology texts.   



American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2009).  DSM-V:  The Future Manual.  Retrieved December 7, 2009 from

Miklowitz, D.J., Otto, M.W., Frank, E., Reilly-Harrington, N.A., Kogan, J.N., Sachs, G.S., et al. (2007).  Psychosocial treatments for bipolar depression: A 1-year randomized trial from the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(4), 419-426. 


© 2009 Stephanie Sarkis


Stephanie Sarkis PhD is the author of three books: 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD: How to Overcome Chronic Distraction & Accomplish Your Goals (2006); Making the Grade with ADD: A Student's Guide to Succeeding in College with Attention Deficit Disorder (2008); and ADD and Your Money: A Guide to Personal Finance for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (2009).  Dr. Sarkis is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) based in Boca Raton, Florida.  She provides counseling and coaching to children and adults with ADHD/ADD.  She is also an adjunct assistant professor in Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University.

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