Home Book Reviews Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment

Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment


Written by Mark D. Kilgus, Jerrold S. Maxmen and Nicholas G. Ward

Reviewed by Antigone Phili, New York University

Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment, 4th edition, is a revision of the 3rd edition published six years prior, with the goal of corresponding to the significant changes made in the DSM-5.  It includes updated research and data in the realm of psychopathology, etiology, and neuroscience, and boasts revamped chapters on the schizophrenia spectrum, somatic symptoms, and trauma, stress-related, and elimination disorders.  Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment is a useful text for students and educators who wish to gain an overview of the epidemiology, clinical course, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, or to simply have as an on-hand reference guide for studying or in clinical practice.

The text reviews a brief history of the various DSM editions, and details the changes in latest edition, the DSM-5, which moved from multi-axial to dimensional categorization in an attempt to reflect the spectrum of mental disorders. Given the recent advances in neuroscience and growing empirical evidence for genetic and/or environmental factors, the DSM-5 also includes etiological hypotheses in addition to biological and psychosocial factors; Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment reflects this inclusion.

From the definition of cognition to the specific biological treatments for mood disorders, Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment covers the basics as well as the more complex details associated with disorders, psychopharmacology, and treatment. The psychopharmacology section offers a summary of the more prominent neurotransmitters and touches on their involvement with mental disorders, a useful review for students or clinicians seeking a refresher on the topic.

For clinicians working with patients with ADHD, the SNAP-IV rating scale and scoring instructions are included and may be reproduced without copyright infringement.  However, the ADHD medication section seems a little outdated as the only in-text reference is from 1993, and there is no indication of where some of the statistics came from.  The same critique can be made for all other sections, which could equally benefit from updated statistics and more in-text references.

Considering two out of the three main authors have passed away—Jerrold S. Maxmen, MD, in 1992 and Nicholas G. Ward, MD, in 2008—perhaps it is time to welcome a new lead author, or team of authors, for a more thorough update in the next edition.

Ultimately, Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment is a useful companion to the DSM—or for those who wish to avoid the owning DSM—with its inclusions of tables and criteria directly from the DSM coupled with descriptive explanations that go beyond the DSM.  Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment includes feedback from students, clinicians, and educators, and encourages more feedback to incorporate in future editions.

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Essential Psychotherapy and its treatment 300Kilgus, M.D., Maxmen, J.S., & Ward, N.G. (2015). Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment. W. W. Norton & Company. 697 pages. IBSN 978-0-393-71064-9