Allen Frances: Overdiagnosis

“Dr. Frances feels two-thirds of patients diagnosed are being treated unnecessarily.”

The makers of the film CrazyWise conducted an interview with psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances.

Dr. Frances is best known for his role as the chair of the group that produced the 4th edition of the psychiatric “bible”: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – IV. So it came as quite a surprise that his book “Saving Normal” – subtitled “An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life” – strongly criticised the next version of DSM (DSM-V), which appeared nearly 20 years later in 2013.

In the words of the CrazyWise film-makers:

“Dr. Frances says that diagnostic expansion is a real issue and that we are pathologising normal human experience. The scale of normal vs. illness is weighing so heavy on the side of illness that Dr. Frances feels two-thirds of patients diagnosed are being treated unnecessarily.”

In the USA, he is equally worried about the 300,000+ mentally ill people who are in prison for nuisance crimes because of lack of access to treatment and the 250,000 who are homeless. He believes we are in the crazy position of overtreating the worried well and undertreating those who desperately need help.

You can watch the video interview extract here.

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