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Allen Frances, MD

Allen Frances, MD

Dr Frances was the chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and of the department of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC. He is currently Professor Emeritus at Duke.  

He is author of Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life (New York: William Morrow; 2013) and Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis (New York: Guilford Press; 2013).

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The institutions of yesterday were overcrowded, noisy, and often had a distinctive odor. Patients were neglected and mistreated. Yet those problems have been replaced with a different set. More in this commentary.

If we didn't so stigmatize the severely mentally ill, we would feel an urgent responsibility to rescue them immediately from prison and homelessness.

Some doubt that even $650 million will go very far in speeding up the solution to the vast jigsaw puzzle known as neuroscience. According to this author, we have learned a great deal in basic science, but nothing at all that translates to better clinical care.

Amidst the anguish and heartbreak felt by the victims’ families, there are always two haunting questions: What motivates someone to kill strangers wholesale in a seemingly senseless way? And what, if anything, can we do to stop these tragedies from recurring?

Death penalty cases are extravagantly expensive and drain funding from programs that might actually reduce crime.

I get a strong and encouraging response whenever I write or talk about saving normals from excessive treatment. I get almost no response when I write or talk about the shameful and wasteful neglect of the severely ill. We mistreat them barbarously and almost no one seems to care.

The tripling of ADHD rates in the last 20 years and skyrocketing use of stimulants are sure signs of a fad. The forces promoting it are, and will continue to be, formidable. More in this commentary.

In just 20 years, rates of ADHD have tripled and autism and childhood bipolar disorder have increased forty fold. The last thing our kids need is to be misdiagnosed with “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo” and bathed in even more stimulant meds. More in this opinion piece.

Firearms are the means of death in thousands of suicides and homicides every year. There is no denying that free access and wide availability has made gun death a major threat to our public health. More in this commentary.

Mental health professionals can predict high-risk groups but can’t pick out who will go on a rampage. Murder is too much of a-needle in-the-haystack rare event to ever be reliably prevented with psychiatric tools. More in this commentary.

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