Chapter 2. Clinical Diagnosis of Dementia: A Review

  1. Mario Maj4 and
  2. Norman Sartorius5
  1. Barry Reisberg1,2,
  2. Emile Franssen1,2,
  3. Muhammad A. Shah1,
  4. Jerzy Weigel3,
  5. Maciej Bobinski3 and
  6. Henryk M. Wisniewski3

Published Online: 11 FEB 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0470842350.ch2



How to Cite

Reisberg, B., Franssen, E., Shah, M. A., Weigel, J., Bobinski, M. and Wisniewski, H. M. (2000) Clinical Diagnosis of Dementia: A Review, in Dementia (eds M. Maj and N. Sartorius), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/0470842350.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 4

    University of Naples, Italy

  2. 5

    University of Geneva, Switzerland

Author Information

  1. 1

    Aging and Dementia Research and Treatment Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

  2. 2

    Fisher Alzheimer's Disease Education and Resources Program

  3. 3

    Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, 1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 FEB 2002
  2. Published Print: 13 JUN 2000

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471606987

Online ISBN: 9780470842355



  • dementia;
  • diagnosis;
  • DSM-IV;
  • ICD-10;
  • geriatric psychiatry;
  • aggression;
  • hallucinations;
  • mental deterioration;
  • memory impairment;
  • Alzheimer's disease


The term dementia has been useful in medical categorization and classification for approximately 2000 years. Although the term “dementia” has remained in usage over these past two millennia, in general, until the advent of the Renaissance, physicians who have followed the Galenic medical tradition, dating from the time of the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, have utilized this term, whereas physicians who have followed the Hippocratic medical tradition, dating from ancient Greek times (circa 400 B.C.), did not identify dementing disorders. Currently, the DSM-IV definition of dementia as a condition with “general mental deterioration”, including memory impairment and with functional deficits, has relatively high specificity and relatively low sensitivity. The net result of the current categorization is that it is essential for clinicians to recognize the salient clinical features of the major dementia and non-dementia mental disorder and to formulate a diagnosis based upon these salient features.