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Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry, Second Edition, reflects the current dynamic state of psychiatric knowledge. New discoveries from the basic biomedical and psychological sciences are having a major impact on psychiatric practice today. The task is to translate these new discoveries into a form useful to clinicians. This text is intended to be practical, succinct, and useful for all health care professionals who encounter and provide care for individuals with psychiatric symptoms and behavioral disturbance.

The field of psychiatry has undergone a gradual change in the last several decades. It has moved from a body of medical and psychological knowledge that was theory-bound, to an empirical approach that is more flexible with regard to reasoning about etiology. This change came about as it became apparent that developments in neurobiology, genetics, and cognitive and developmental psychology would make unanticipated inroads into our understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of psychiatric syndromes. Furthermore, a more flexible philosophy evolved regarding the description and definition of psychiatric syndromes. Some syndromes have indistinct boundaries and shade into each other. In addition, the idea of discovering a single underlying biochemical characteristic of a psychiatric syndrome, which would in turn clarify the diagnostic description and predict treatment, was recognized as being hopelessly simplistic. Moreover, through the complexity of behavioral genetics, we now understand that those genotypes which are becoming highly significant in understanding psychopathology and developmental psychology may lead to unexpected phenotypes which do not fit our current conception of the psychiatric syndromes.

Section I of Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry, Second Edition, identifies some of the major tributaries of scientific knowledge that inform the current theory and practice of psychiatry and also presents techniques for the evaluation of psychiatric patients. Section II presents the diagnosis, phenomenology, and psychopathology of the major adult psychiatric syndromes and their evidence-based treatments. Section III presents the same material for the major syndromes seen in child and adolescent psychiatry. Section IV presents specialized settings for diagnosis and treatment in psychiatry.

Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry, Second Edition, is written from an empirical viewpoint, with recognition that the boundaries of psychopathological syndromes may change unexpectedly with the emergence of new knowledge. Eventually, the accumulation of new knowledge will sharpen our diagnostic techniques and improve the treatment of these illnesses that have such a high impact on normal development, health, and society.

Michael H. Ebert, MD
Peter T. Loosen, MD, PhD
Barry Nurcombe, MD
James F. Leckman, MD
November 2007

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