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Allen Frances
Allen Frances MD is Professor Emeritus at Duke University and former Chair of its Department of Psychiatry. He was Chair of the DSM IV Task Force. He is the author of "Saving Normal" and "Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis."

Allen Frances was the chairperson of the DSM-IV Task Force, a former chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University School of Medicine, and is the author of two new books: Saving Normal and Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis.

Entries by Allen Frances

My Prediction: The ADHD Fad Is About to Fade

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 4:44 PM

I have been blogging and tweeting about ADHD a lot lately because I believe that change is in the air.

This is the worst of times for ADHD diagnosis because statistics show it is wildly overdiagnosed and overtreated. This is possibly the best of times for ADHD diagnosis because...

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No Child Left Undiagnosed

(14) Comments | Posted April 12, 2014 | 3:39 PM

'Sluggish Cognitive Tempo' may possibly be the very dumbest and most dangerous diagnostic idea I have ever encountered.

And I have seen some beauts during my forty years of shooting down crazy new diagnostic dream lists. The wild suggestions are usually created by 'experts' brimfull with diagnostic exuberance...

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When It Comes to Mass Murder, Think Method and Means, Not Motive

(21) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 4:30 PM

After every mass murder, the question everyone asks is why it happened. How could anyone possibly be so violent, or so evil, or so out of control, or so crazy as to engage in the wholesale and indiscriminate killing of a bunch of people who are usually complete strangers?


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Packing More Heat Will Result in More Killings

(311) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 10:27 AM

When public support for gun control peaked after the Newtown mass murder, the National Rifle Association decided to double down.

The NRA called in all its political chips to vigorously and successfully block even the mildest and most sensible of gun reform intended to limit easy access to military style...

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Treat the Classroom, Not the Kids

(1) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 8:16 PM

The statistics tell us that our children are getting sicker and sicker. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has more than tripled in just 20 years; it is now diagnosed in 11 percent of all kids, and in an astounding 20 percent of teenage boys. Autism is also on a rapid rise;...

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Most Active Kids Don't Have ADHD

(3) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 1:55 PM

We are overdiagnosing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids and giving many of them stimulant drugs they don't need. Some kids, especially boys, are more active than others; most of what passes for ADHD these days is really no more than normal variation or developmental difference.

The numbers tell...

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Reported High Rates of Military Mental Illness Are Wrong and Dangerous

(5) Comments | Posted March 5, 2014 | 2:34 PM

The headline reads, "Study: Mental illness rate higher in soldiers."

The article goes on to offer alarming statistics:

The rate of major depression is five times as high among soldiers as civilians; intermittent explosive disorder, which results in episodes of extreme anger, is six times as high; and...
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Wolfish Radicals in Conservative Sheep's Clothing

(63) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 2:33 PM

The media have adopted a new and dangerous convention. People who are radical in their goals and methods are routinely mislabeled 'conservative.'

Ted Nugent is described as a 'conservative' in pieces reporting that he believes President Obama to be a "subhuman mongrel" who leads a "Nazi" administration.

Edmund Burke,...

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Why Aren't We Buying Insurance Against Global Warming?

(85) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 7:58 AM

Every responsible person carries insurance against all sorts of life's potential catastrophes. We don't think twice about buying health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, liability insurance, and it goes on and on.

From a gambler's perspective, these are all sucker bets. Insurance companies make their big bucks by...

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How Parents Can Protect Kids From the ADHD 'Epidemic'

(7) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 8:18 AM

Keith Conners can be considered the father of ADHD. He did the early studies, helped work out the definition, developed the most widely used diagnostic tools, and did research that led to treatment guidelines. He knows as much about ADHD as anyone on the planet.

In a recent

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Righting Wrongs, Setting the Record Straight and Making Amends

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 4:38 PM

In a previous blog post I expressed my remorse for not speaking out 20 years ago against the mass hysteria that led to the imprisonment of numerous innocent day center workers. They were charged with, and often imprisoned for, ridiculous crimes involving alleged sexual and satanic abuse of...

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Multiple Personality -- Is It Mental Disorder, Myth, or Metaphor?

(47) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 11:12 AM

Richard Noll's excellent piece on the folly-filled history of Multiple Personality Disorder (aka Dissociative Identity Disorder) turned out to be too hot for Psychiatric Times to handle.

After having posted the blog, PsychTimes promptly unposted it. The quick turnaround was apparently occasioned by the fear that those named and blamed...

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Sex and Satanic Abuse: A Fad Revisited

(18) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 3:10 PM

I have been so vocal in warning about DSM 5 partly because I'm ashamed of my silence in the face of a previous outrage that cried out for similar whistle blowing. The episode is recalled in a wonderful piece by Richard Noll that brings the history vividly back...

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Holding Psychiatry to a Much Higher Ethical Standard

(16) Comments | Posted January 22, 2014 | 12:31 PM

There is a new and strange twist that further complicates the sad DSM-5 saga.

For some time, Dr. Bernard Carroll has served as an unofficial conscience of psychiatry, tirelessly exposing scientific sloppiness and ethical laxity. He recently made a new find, documenting that the chair of the DSM-5...

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Connecting the Dots on the ADHD Fad

(49) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 12:46 PM

Every once in a while a brilliant investigative journalist can get us back on track when we have been led badly astray. I hope that last Sunday's New York Times front page story, "The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder," by Alan Schwarz will have that kind of special...

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Diagnostic Ethics: Harms vs Benefits of Somatic Symptom Disorder

(2) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 12:07 PM

There are five possible explanations whenever someone presents to a doctor with physical symptoms that have not yet been diagnosed:

  • The symptoms may be a manifestation of a medical illness that will be readily diagnosed after careful history, physical exam, and lab testing.
  • They may be a manifestation of a...
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Psychosis Risk Syndrome Is Back To Haunt Us

(9) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 10:38 AM

It was at a cocktail party four years ago that I first heard about the plan to include a 'Psychosis Risk Syndrome' in DSM-5. The idea was to diagnose and treat subthreshold psychotic symptoms early enough to prevent the later development of full blown psychotic disorders.

The motive for introducing...

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Does It Make Sense to Scrap Psychiatric Diagnosis?

(10) Comments | Posted October 28, 2013 | 2:32 PM

I am always skeptical of suggested new 'paradigm shifts' and worry that ambitiously striving for them will wind up causing more harm than good.

One example: DSM-5 failed so badly precisely because it promised a 'paradigm shift' in psychiatric diagnosis. This self-imposed pressure to produce bold innovations led to poorly...

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Why Are Some Billionaires Still Greedy for More?

(4) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 2:50 PM

My line of thought on this started with a compelling analysis of the origin and maintenance of the Tea Party. Definitely worth reading here.

Connecting the economic and political dots proves how much the Tea Party is the brainchild of the ultra-billionaire Koch brothers. This...

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The Doctor/Patient Relationship Comes First, Last, and Always

(1) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 3:59 PM

Pinel, the father of modern psychiatry, is famous for liberating his patients from their chains. But he did a whole lot more. Pinel spent long hours listening attentively to each patient's life story so that he could correlate their life experiences with the onset and course of symptoms.

Pinel got...

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