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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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There has probably never been a worse place and worse time to have a severe mental illness than now in the United States. How did we get into this mess?

We are the richest nation in the history of the world and yet we provide the worst care ever conceived for the severely ill who most need it.

Clearly, too much medicine can be very bad for your health. And it is also a disaster for the health of our economy.


Doctors who don't know their patients make easily avoidable technical mistakes that can have tragic consequences. The best way "to do no harm" is to know and understand your patient.

The author suggests a checklist to help clinicians think through the necessary steps that should be part of every careful prescription of medication for children.

©Julien Tromeur/shutterstock.com

We need doctors who understand life and people, not just lab test readouts and scientific papers.

The major focus of effective therapy—to establish a healing relationship and to inspire hope.

There is no worse death than a hospital death. This requires preparation and preparation requires recognizing that dying is a necessary, and indeed desirable, part of life.

Twenty five years ago, “hikikomori” was a new term in Japan, used to describe severe and prolonged school refusal in teenagers, sometimes evolving into complete social withdrawal. The shut-in phenomenon has since gone global.

“Quick, operate before the patient gets better” is one of those jokes surgeons tell among themselves, barely covering a hard truth: that a lot of elective surgery might be unnecessary or even harmful.


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