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Running Head: CLINICIANS’ JUDGMENTS OF CLINICAL UTILITY - page 26 / 41

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categories could be a myth. A presumption that clinicians find the personality disorder diagnostic categories to be useful in guiding them toward treatment selection and intervention techniques might not be entirely accurate. Maser, Kaelber and Weise (1991) conducted an international survey of psychologists and psychiatrists concerning their attitudes and opinions regarding DSM-III (APA, 1980) and DSM-III-R (APA, 1987). They reported, “personality disorders led the list of diagnostic categories with which respondents were dissatisfied” (Maser et al., 1991, p. 275). Toward the end of the survey, they also provided an open-ended opportunity for the clinicians to write in the section of the diagnostic manual that was most in need of revision; 35% of the sample chose to write in personality disorders, which again led the list. Maser and colleagues did not include questions in their survey to indicate precisely why the clinicians were so dissatisfied with the personality disorders section, nor did the current study ask clinicians why they found the FFM descriptions to be more helpful for making treatment decisions. However, a few respondents did provide unsolicited statements in the margins of the utility questionnaire. For instance, subject #192 wrote, “I prefer describing people rather than categories” and subject #247 indicated “just filling this (clinical utility form) out helped me to realize how inadequate DSM really is.” The potential utility of the FFM for describing personality disorder can perhaps be illustrated by examining in greater detail one of the three case vignettes.

Case Illustration: Ted Bundy

Eighty percent of the clinicians in this study considered Ted Bundy to be a prototypic case of antisocial personality disorder. However, prototypic cases would be persons who meet all of the diagnostic criteria and fail to have significant features of other disorders

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