PurposeAtheoretical and descriptive conceptualizations of eating disorders (EDs) have faced substantial criticism due to their limited ability to assess patients' subjective characteristics and experiences, as needed to determine the most appropriate treatment options. The present article provides an overview of the clinical and empirical literature supporting the potential contribution of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM-2) to both diagnostic assessment and treatment monitoring.MethodsFollowing a discussion of the most relevant shortcomings of current diagnostic models of EDs and a description of the rationale and structure of the PDM-2, evidence supporting the core PDM-2 dimensions of ED patients' subjective experiences (i.e., affective states, cognitive processes, relational patterns, somatic/bodily experiences and states) are examined, alongside their relevance to ED diagnosis and treatment.ResultsOverall, the reviewed studies support the diagnostic importance of these patterns of subjective experiences in EDs, highlighting their potential role as either predisposing or maintaining factors to target in psychotherapy. A growing body of multidisciplinary evidence also shows that bodily and somatic experiences are central to the diagnosis and clinical management of ED patients. Moreover, there is evidence that a PDM-based assessment may enable closer monitoring of patient progress during treatment, with regard to both subjective experiences and symptom patterns.ConclusionsThe study suggests that current diagnostic frameworks for EDs would benefit from the addition of a person-centered perspective that considers not only symptoms, but also patients' full range of functioning-including their deep and surface-level emotional, cognitive, interpersonal, and social patterns-to improve patient-tailored interventions.
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