Individual chapters of this book are available to purchase online.

This collection of articles from constructivist, narrative and social constructionist theorists and therapists describes alternatives to diagnoses and treatment that humanize the assessment process and allow for therapeutic change. This book focuses on the question of how psychotherapists can think of human distress in a way that gives direction to the course of therapy without stigmatizing or pathologizing their clients. The approaches in this volume emphasize the personal and social processes of language and meaning making in creating and resolving problems.

The authors focus on such techniques as the experiential exploration of the client's tacit processes of self-construction and the deconstruction of oppressive cultural discourses. The result is a book that explores the relevance of postmodern clinical theory and fleshes out emerging alternatives to diagnosis that are more personally viable, contextually sensitive, and ethically defensible.

Table of Contents




I. (De)Constructing Disorder

  1. On Practicing Postmodern Therapy in Modern Times
    —Robert A. Neimeyer and Jonathan D. Raskin
  2. The Construction of Disorder as Human Enterprise
    —Jonathan D. Raskin and Adam M. Lewandowski

II. Disorder as Disruption in Selfhood Construction

  1. Core Ordering and Disordering Processes: A Constructive View of Psychological Development
    —Michael J. Mahoney
  2. The Order in Clinical "Disorder": Symptom Coherence in Depth Oriented Brief Therapy
    —Bruce Ecker and Laurel Hulley
  3. Experience, Explanation, and the Quest for Coherence
    —Giampiero Arciero and Vittorio Guidano

III. Disorder and Assessment of Personal Meanings

  1. Linguistic Ambiguity as a Diagnostic Tool
    —Jay S. Efran and Paul F. Cook
  2. Constructing and Deconstructing Transitive Diagnosis
    —Thomas J. Johnson, David T. Pfenninger, and Reid E. Klion
  3. Diagnosing Human Meaning Making: An Experiential Constructivist Approach
    —Larry M. Leitner, April J. Faidley, and Mark A. Celetana

IV. Disorder as Narrative Construction

  1. Narrative Disruptions in the Construction of Self
    —Robert A. Neimeyer
  2. Resisting the Dominating Story: Toward a Deeper Understanding of Narrative Therapy
    —Wendy Drewery, John Winslade, and Gerald Monk
  3. Constructing Psychopathology from a Cognitive Narrative Perspective
    —Oscar F. Goncalves, Yifaht Korman, and Lynne Angus

V. Contextual Constraints and Discourses of Disorder

  1. Discomforts of the Powerless: Feminist Constructions of Distress
    —Laura S. Brown
  2. Reconstructing Psychological Distress and Disorder from a Relational Perspective: A Systemic Constructive–Developmental Framework
    —Sandra Rigazio-DiGilio
  3. From Disordering Discourse to Transformative Dialogue
    —Kenneth J. Gergen and Sheila McNamee

Author Index

Subject Index

About the Editors

Editor Bios

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis in Memphis, TN, where he also maintains an active private practice. Since completing his doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska in 1982, the majority of his research has centered on constructivist approaches to personality and psychotherapy.

He has published 17 books, including Personal Construct Therapy Casebook (Springer, 1987), Advances in Personal Construct Theory (Vols. 1–4; JAI Press, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997), and Constructivism in Psychotherapy (with Michael J. Mahoney; American Psychological Association [APA], 1995). The author of over 200 articles and book chapters, he is currently most interested in developing a narrative and constructivist framework for psychotherapy, with special relevance to the experience of loss and grief. Dr. Neimeyer is the coeditor of the Journal of Constructivist Psychology and serves on the editorial board of numerous other journals.

In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Distinguished Research Award by the University of Memphis (1990), designated Psychologist of the Year by the Tennessee Psychological Association (1996), made a fellow of APA's Division 12 (Clinical Psychology, 1997), and received the Research Recognition Award of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (1999).

Jonathan D. Raskin, PhD, received his AB from Vassar College and his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Florida. Presently, he is an assistant professor of psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Dr. Raskin has authored or coauthored articles applying constructivism to psychotherapy, psychopathology, sexuality, and ethics. He is currently secretary of APA's Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology). He is also the book review editor of the Journal of Constructivist Psychology and a licensed psychologist in the state of New York.