Comparing the DSM and the Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology

Comparing the styles of the DSM and the Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology helped me to see how different people can interpret the same information.  I was actually surprised to see the difference between the two books because I thought they would have been much more similar.

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The DSM first shows a list of the ten specific personality disorders with a brief description of each of them, it then describes the three clusters and which of the clusters each disorder fits into, and this is decided by the disorder’s description.  After the definitions, the DSM explains the diagnostic features and how personality traits fit into them and the various criteria associated with personality disorders.  After the chapter gives information about a patient’s background regarding a personality disorder.  It explains the dimensional models where it tells about the effort to find the most important factors in what is considered to be normal behavior.

Once through the introductory information, the DSM begins with Cluster A personality disorders which include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.  Cluster B personality disorders which include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.  Cluster C personality disorders include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and personality disorder not otherwise specified.

Each disorder description includes a more in depth description and it gives other disorders that are most likely to co-occur, a more specific description of culture, age and gender features which gives more insight into the background of the person experiencing the personality disorder, it gives a small description of how many people in the population are generally affected and an in depth look at how you can tell the difference between this disorder and others that are considered similar.  At the end of the disorder description is a list of criteria specific to that disorder.

The Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology provides the information in a different layout.  This text lists out explanations of disorders in groupings like the DSM, but the groupings are what the text calls “a loose progression that ranges from the prescientific or naïve to what is deemed progressively more scientific” (Blaney, P.H., Millon, T.).  There are four categories that the text displays, these are categorical versus dimensional versus prototypal structural models, mathematical methods of data analysis, theoretical conceptions of personality, and evolutionary theories of personality.  Each category lists out several subheadings, so far instance under the first heading, categorical versus dimensional versus prototypal structural models there is a subheading titles.  The categorical model, which tells us the traditional thought of personality types, how a group of experts gets together and make decisions about how the science will work in this area, and taximetrics, which tells us the basic steps being taken to identify how a personality type would come about in a person and how it would be recognized.  This heading then goes on to discuss the dimensional model, and prototypal models.

Next is the mathematical methods of data analysis which helps to define which characteristics are most important to a personality disorder.  It explains that there are two completely different ways to find these, which are theoretically and methodologically and then lists five different models that help with this process.

Each heading is formatted in a similar manner, but does not give any specific disorders that could or would be attached to it.  This would be the main difference between the DSM and our text.  The most obvious similarities are that they each use groupings for the various categories and then define each subject in the grouping.

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I like the way the DSM is formatted because it gives general guidelines and then gets more specific about each specific disorder.  I like the way it shows the characteristics of the disorder instead of a history of the various ways of thinking about the disorders.

1 thought on “Comparing the DSM and the Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology

  1. Kent Brooks

    I really enjoyed Millon, aside from the fact that you need the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology in your pocket to understand some of it. I think it was valuable, however… being able to read and comprehend at that level is what it takes to be an effective clinician in this environment… so it seemed like a valuable “trial by fire.” My supervisor seemed impressed that it was being used in a Masters level Psychopathology Course, it’s more attuned to a Doctorate level course. It’s a steep read, but as I look back… it’s infinitely more helpful than the Childhood book by Netherton, Holmes, and Walker. Netherton may never see the light of day… the whole books is “we need more research on children.” Well, duh… that’s a journal article, not a 22 chapter book. 🙂

    I am curious to see how Million influences personality disorders in the DSM-V. There are already rumors that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is going to be eliminated entirely… and Borderline is going to be renamed and revamped so it looks nothing like the DSM-IV version.

    Good article Jolynn, as always!



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