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Nosology of Depression and Differential Response to Drugs

John E. Overall, PhD; Leo E. Hollister, MD; Merlin Johnson, MD; Veronica Pennington, MD
JAMA. 1966;195(11):946-948. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100110114031.
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Psychiatric nosology in its present state leaves much to be desired. Some experts would entirely abandon attempts to classify psychiatric patients.1 Others would do away with the existing diagnostic nomenclature, substituting empirically identified modal types.2 A less extreme approach is exemplified by various attempts to increase objectivity in psychiatric classification without discarding diagnostic concepts that have become highly meaningful among professional groups.3

We believe that an adequate nosology of mental illness is important for treatment. Evidence increases that different types of patients respond best to different treatments. While a completely adequate nosology of mental illness cannot be predicated solely on existing therapeutic methods, patients who respond differently to different forms of treatment are in a very real sense different kinds of patients and it is important that these differences be represented in the nosology. Empirical methods are available for identifying natural groupings of patients in terms of


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