Allen Frances

Saving Normal An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life Publication date : October 3, 2013

Allen Frances, a specialist in personality disorders, is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Duke University, North Carolina. He chaired the DSM-IV Task Force. The New York Times described him as ‘the most powerful psychiatrist in America’.

Since the 1950s, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been internationally recognised as the ‘bible of psychiatry’. Published regularly by the American Psychiatric Association, it provides the standard classification of mental disorders, listing symptoms and treatments. The fifth edition was recently published in English, provoking an immediate controversy which has already spread to Europe.
Allen Frances, who chaired the DSM’s previous edition (2000), has become a powerful critic of the new edition. His book is a scathing critique of what he considers to be psychiatry’s dangerous excesses.
Everyone experiences worries, disappointments, setbacks and loss. These challenges are a normal part of life. However, there is a growing tendency to diagnose such aspects of existence as ‘mental disorders’ requiring medical treatment. Such unnecessary medicalization is denounced here.
Frances cautions that psychiatry has lost sight of the difference between what is normal and what is pathological. Pressured in particular by pharmaceutical companies, psychiatry is in the process of converting millions of ‘normal’ people into ‘mental patients’ so that it can medicate them. And the new DSM-V exacerbates this trend.

• A serious critique of current psychiatry and its excesses by an eminent psychiatrist.
• A thorough study of the harmful effects of pharmaceutical lobbying.