Psychodiagnostics: Meaning
 Understanding of a person’s psychological profile in its totality
 Comprehension of the total personality of an
individual in all its aspects
 Similar to “characterology” a term coined by J. Bahnsen
 In this wider sense psychodiagnogsis is often refereed
as characterological diagnosis
 Involve wide range of techniques and methods ranging
from graphology through projective techniques and
psychometric tests to interview and observation.
 In this sense psychodiagnosis does involve diagnosis of
psychiatric disorders but is not limited to that only.
 It may be done for planning and evaluating
psychotherapy, educational and vocational guidance,
and for understanding other personal problems
requiring guidance and counseling.
 In clinical psychology, however, the term
psychodiagnosis is more related with diagnosis and
understanding of mental disorders for planning and
implementation of suitable psychological
Psychodiagnosis as applied to clinical setting
Psychodiagnosis as applied to clinical setting
 characterological diagnosis It involves understanding the
person as complete as possible and aims at describing the
person’s personality structure and dynamics, his assets and
weaknesses, the psychosocial demands on him and his/her
coping resources. Such assessment involves understanding
of the personality development. Understanding how and by
what factors the given psychopathological symptoms and
syndrome emerged.
 In a narrow sense it refers to the symptomatic or
categorical diagnosis. A process of categorizing the person
in terms of any existing psychiatric classification system.
Diagnosis as a classificatory process
• Some definitions
• According to Atkinson, Berne, and Woodworth (1987)
diagnosis is the process of –
Determination of the nature of the abnormality or disease
The classification of an individual on the basis of a disease or
• According to Berzonsky (1994) “ psychodiagnosis refers
to –
The process of classifying information relevant to an individuals
emotional and behavioural state, and
The name assigned to the state, taken generally from a commonly
accepted classification system
• Thus, diagnosis can be referred to as a process of
classification and labeling
psychological disorder.
A shift towards characterological diagnosis
 There are two specific reasons: Researches demonstrate that mental health and illness is
influenced by a host of factors and therefore it is necessary to
understand the behaviour, emotions, thinking, personality, social
situations and stressful life events that are associated with a
given psychopathology.
 With symptomatic diagnostis all patients with a given diagnosis
will be considered similar and homogeneous. However, the fact
is that within a given diagnostic category patients differ a lot in
terms of symptomatic manifestation and associated condition.
Thus, the uniqueness of the individual is lost with classificatory
diagnostic process and fro planning the specific treatment the
uniqueness of the individual must be considered.
Clinical data: The core of diagnostic process
 What is Data?
 What is clinical data?
 The sign and symptoms are the most basic components
of the clinical data.
 The distinction between FORM and CONTENT of
 Form: the description of the structure of psychological
experience in phenomenological terms (e.g. a delusion,
depressed mood, phobia, etc.)
 Content: the psychosocial environmental context within
which the patient describes this abnormal form:
 The form is dependent upon the nature of the mental
Content is dependent upon the life situation, culture, and
society within which the patient exists.
The distinction is important for diagnosis and treatment
determining the psychopathological form is necessary for
accurate diagnosis
Content of symptoms reveal the patient's current
significant concerns and is helpful in constructing a welldirected treatment regime.
Thus, while collecting data, one should focus on both the
content and the form of the symptom
REMEMBER: The patient or their attendant generally
report the major concerns and distress and not the
symptoms. It is the clinician’s task to note the form and
content of the symptom.
Clinical data: Another distinction
 Objective data: In clinical setting objective data refers to
an account of an event or behaviour that is based on
agreement between two or more persons or sources.
 Subjective data: an account of an event or behaviour that
comes from only one person (generally the patient or their
 Objective information is likely to be safer to act upon than
subjective, so efforts should always be put into raising as
much as possible of the information about a patient into the
objective category.
 Nevertheless, many of the most important symptoms in
psychiatry can only be subjective, since they refer to the
inner experience of the one person who can describe them.
Core clinical database
Process of Psychodiagnostic assessment
Sundberg and Tylor’s (1962) model
assessment data
synthesizing and
interpreting data
Communication of
Sundberg (1977) model
Client, Firm or agency
Request for assessment
Feedback (report) to agency
for service
Choice of
during data
Choice of ways
to organize
ation of
nt report
Diagnosis: An overview

Psychodiagnostics - Emotion and Health Research Group