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Axis II (psychology)

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) organizes psychopathology using a "multiaxial" system, and describes the axes as "different domains of information" for use in clinical work.

"Axis II" includes personality disorders and mental retardation, and more generally is used to describe maladaptive aspects of personality, and defense mechanisms.

The five DSM axes are:

  • Axis I: major mental disorders, clinical disorders
  • Axis II: underlying pervasive or personality conditions, developmental disorders and learning disabilities, as well as mental retardation
  • Axis III: medical conditions contributing to the disorder
  • Axis IV: psychosocial and environmental factors contributing to the disorder
  • Axis V: Global Assessment of Functioning (on a scale from 100 to 0)

Within Axis II, 12 conditions are distinguished (many are commonly referred to by their acronyms):

These conditions are not mutually exclusive; indeed the DSM notes that it is common for a patient to suffer from more than one Axis II condition.


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