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Allen Frances

Connecting the Dots on the ADHD Fad

Allen Frances | Posted 02.16.2014 | Science
Allen Frances

The history of psychiatry is a history of fad diagnoses that come out of nowhere to capture much more attention than they deserve. Current fads are distinguished only by the billions of dollars spent by powerful commercial forces to create and push them.

Psychosis Risk Syndrome Is Back To Haunt Us

Allen Frances | Posted 01.26.2014 | Science
Allen Frances

Preventing psychosis would be a great idea if we could really do it; but there is no reason to think we can. And reaching beyond our grasp is likely to harm those we hoped to help.

Does It Make Sense to Scrap Psychiatric Diagnosis?

Allen Frances | Posted 01.23.2014 | Science
Allen Frances

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

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

Allen Frances | Posted 01.23.2014 | Science
Allen Frances

When I started my training in psychiatry 45 years ago, the prevailing model for understanding mental disorders was broadly bio/psycho/social in the grand tradition of Pinel. When psychiatry is practiced well, it integrates insights from all the different ways of understanding human nature.

Psychiatric Patients in Prisons Are Frequent Rape Victims

Allen Frances | Posted 01.23.2014 | Science
Allen Frances

Prisons are clearly not an appropriate or safe place for psychiatric patients -- but almost a million are behind bars for crimes that could have been avoided had they received proper community treatment.

When Is It Justified to Force Treatment on Someone

Allen Frances | Posted 01.23.2014 | Science
Allen Frances

Some would shout a resounding,impassioned, all inclusive, Never! No psychiatric coercion, not ever, not even under the most seemingly urgent of circumstances.

Two Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Allen Frances | Posted 10.13.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

I have known hundreds of patients who were not helped or were directly harmed by psychiatry. But I have also known many thousands of patients who have benefited greatly. The overall results in psychiatry are quite good and compare favorably to other medical specialties.

A Conflicted, Fractured Mental Health System: What to Do?

SaraKay Smullens | Posted 09.24.2013 | Healthy Living
SaraKay Smullens

Yes, meds are important. For instance, those that change the chemistry of the brain through use of serotonin can help one to feel better. But turning to this drug exclusively without talk therapy does not address what in an individual life may very likely be causing the depression.

A Pill Popping Society

Allen Frances | Posted 09.16.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

Our forty year war against the illegal drugs promoted by drug cartels has been a proven failure. If we devoted just a tenth of the effort to controlling the equally dangerous misuse of legal prescription drugs, we would most certainly succeed.

Can Congress Cure the Disorder in Mental Health?

Allen Frances | Posted 08.03.2013 | Politics
Allen Frances

This past month has been disastrous for mental health. One embarrassment has followed another -- leading to a crisis of confidence that is potentially dangerous for those who rely on psychiatric care.

Is Criticism of DSM-5 'Anti-psychiatry'?

Allen Frances | Posted 07.24.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

The latest in APA's fluffy public relations has come from the president of the American Psychiatric Association. He has made two astounding claims -- that criticism of DSM-5 is somehow equivalent to criticism of psychiatry and that it signifies stigma against mental illness.

The Role of Biological Tests in Psychiatric Diagnosis

Allen Frances | Posted 07.22.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

May has been a dispiriting month for psychiatry and a sad and worrying time for our patients. Three of the leading mental health organizations have squabbled among themselves -- promoting silly and competing 'paradigm shifts' while ignoring the unmet needs of our patients.

DSM-5: Where Do We Go From Here?

Allen Frances | Posted 07.16.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

My recommendation for clinicians is simple. Don't use DSM-5 -- there is nothing official about it, nothing especially helpful in it, and all the codes you need for reimbursement are already available for free on the Internet or in DSM-IV.

NIMH vs DSM-5: No One Wins, Patients Lose

Allen Frances | Posted 07.10.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

The flat out rejection of DSM-5 by National Institute of Mental Health is a sad moment for mental health and an unsafe one for our patients. The APA and NIMH are both letting us down, failing to be safe custodians for the mental health needs of our country.

Hippocratic Humility

Allen Frances | Posted 07.08.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

Psychiatric diagnosis and treatment are often life changing events -- usually for the better, sometimes for worse, sometimes a tie score. Sorting out who is who in the rule of thirds requires patience and humility -- both currently in short supply.

Don't People in Chronic Pain Have Enough to Deal With?

Allen Frances | Posted 07.01.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

DSM-5 represents a wholesale, imperial medicalization of normality. So many new and untested diagnoses; so many reduced thresholds for the old ones. Pretty soon everyone will have a diagnosis and many will have a whole bunch of them.

The Obama Plan -- Spending Mental Health Money in All the Wrong Places

Allen Frances | Posted 06.12.2013 | Politics
Allen Frances

This well-meaning program is a serious mistake for two reasons. First, it is no more than a politically correct, cosmetic solution that distracts attention from what really needs to be done. Second, it will likely wind up doing much more harm than good.

Animal Smarts

Allen Frances | Posted 06.08.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

Accumulating evidence suggests that animals are a lot smarter and humans are a lot dumber than we previously thought. A recent study shows that the short term memory of chimpanzees far exceeds what we can expect from ourselves.

What's Normal? What's Not?

Allen Frances | Posted 06.01.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

No bright line marks the boundary between illness and health. At the extremes it is easy to diagnose mental illness accurately and to distinguish it from normality. At the fuzzy border, it is impossible.

Are Your Physical Symptoms in Your Head?

Allen Frances | Posted 05.25.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

'It is all in your head' is no more helpful an answer to the patient's puzzling and troubling question than were 'the spirits are angry' or 'the gods are punishing you' or 'your four humors are unbalanced.'

Can Science Figure Out Consciousness?

Allen Frances | Posted 04.20.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

President Obama will soon declare a second "decade of the brain." The project is a good idea, but don't hold your breath that it will lead to any quick clinical breakthroughs or deep insights into human consciousness.

DSM-5: Science or Dogma? Even Some Establishment Psychiatrists Embarrassed by Newest Diagnostic Bible

Bruce E. Levine | Posted 04.12.2013 | Healthy Living
Bruce E. Levine

The DSM-5 (the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will be released by the APA in spring 2013.

Why Will DSM-5 Cost $199 a Copy?

Allen Frances | Posted 03.26.2013 | Science
Allen Frances

The exorbitant price for DSM-5 will be just another reason, were any needed, for buyers to abandon it.

DSM-5 Inaccuracies: Setting the Record Straight

James H. Scully, Jr., M.D. | Posted 07.31.2012 | Healthy Living
James H. Scully, Jr., M.D.

In a recent piece on The Huffington Post, Allen Frances, M.D., demonstrates either an embarrassing lack of knowledge and understanding of financial reporting or an intentional misrepresentation of facts in his continuing effort to attack the forthcoming DSM-5.