INTRODUCTION: The DSM-IV is a diagnostic and statistical system for the classification of mental disorders that follows a categorical model. It is used in the clinical practice and research in the psychiatry area. The aim of this study was to analyze the use of the DSM-IV in the clinical practice and to report on its advantages and limitations. METHODS: A wide bibliographic review was made to show the relevance of the topic. Some probable changes were pointed out, which will be included in the next editions. A discussion on the diagnostic models, both dimensional and categorical, was carried out as well. The paper was divided into the following sections: history, concept, advantages and disadvantages of the DSM-IV, discussion and conclusion. The article also presents a project developed by the Núcleo de Atendimento dos Transtornos de Ansiedade (NATA), from the Department of Psychiatry at FCM/UNICAMP, which will use an instrument for the diagnostic of the agoraphobia disorder that will follow a dimensional model.
DSM-IV; multiaxial system; psychopathology