Robert Spitzer’s Legacy

January 6, 2016

Robert Spitzer, MD, the architect of DSM-III (1980), died of heart disease on Christmas Day, 2015, at age 83. Most major media outlets published obituaries in which Dr. Spitzer was praised on the grounds that he had brought scientific rigor to psychiatry by naming and defining the various psychiatric illnesses. Here are a few illustrative […]

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Intermittent Explosive Disorder: The ‘Illness’ That Goes On Growing

August 4, 2015

According to the APA, intermittent explosive disorder is characterized by angry aggressive outbursts that occur in response to relatively minor provocation. This particular label has an interesting history in successive editions of the DSM. DSM I  (1952)  Intermittent explosive disorder does not appear as such in the first edition of DSM, but the general concept […]

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Allen Frances Saving Psychiatry From Itself?

July 3, 2015

On October 12, 2014, the eminent psychiatrist Allen Frances, MD, participated in a panel discussion at the Mad In America film festival in Gothenburg, Sweden.  After the festival, he wrote an article – Finding a Middle Ground Between Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry – for the Huffington Post Blog, summarizing the positions he had discussed at the […]

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Allen Frances’ Ties to Johnson & Johnson

June 19, 2015

INTRODUCTION I recently came across an article titled Diagnosisgate: Conflict of Interest at the Top of the Psychiatric Apparatus, by Paula Caplan, PhD.  The article was published in Aporia, the University of Ottawa nursing journal, in January 2015.  Aporia is “a peer-reviewed, bilingual, and open access journal dedicated to scholarly debates in nursing and the […]

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Allen Frances and the Spurious Medicalization of Everyday Problems

April 21, 2015

On April 5, Allen Frances MD, published an article on the Huffington Post blog.  The title is Can We Replace Misleading Terms Like ‘Mental Illness,’ ‘Patient,’ and ‘Schizophrenia’  It’s an interesting piece, and it raises some fundamental issues. Here are some quotes from the article, interspersed with my comments. “Those of us who worked on […]

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Psychiatric Diagnoses:  Labels, Not Explanations

April 2, 2015

On March 16, Ronald Pies, MD, published an article in the Psychiatric Times.  The article is titled The War on Psychiatric Diagnosis, and the sub-title synopsis on the pdf version reads:  “A recent report that argues against descriptive diagnosis in medicine is historically ill-informed and medically naive, in the opinion of this psychiatrist.” Dr. Pies […]

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Psychiatry Is Not Based On Valid Science

January 9, 2014

BACKGROUND On December 23, I wrote a post called DSM-5 – Dimensional Diagnoses – More Conflicts of Interest?  In the article I sketched out the role of David Kupfer, MD, in promoting the concept of dimensional assessment in DSM-5, and I speculated that at least part of his motivation in this regard might have stemmed […]

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Invalidity: The Nature of Psychiatry

June 25, 2013

There’s an interesting post from Duncan Double, MD titled Why does the APA need new editions of DSM? Dr. Double is a psychiatrist and a member of the Critical Psychiatry Network.  In his current article, Dr. Double expresses the hope that there won’t be a DSM-6, essentially on the grounds that none of the revisions […]

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Autism Prevalence Increase Questioned

June 15, 2013

BACKGROUND A couple of days ago (June 12) I posted Autism Prevalence Increasing.  The article drew attention to a post by Kelly Brogan, MD, called See No Evil, Hear No Evil which had appeared on Mad in America on June 9.  Dr. Brogan’s article had cited an alarming increase in the incidence of autism over […]

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An Alternative to DSM

June 13, 2013

Last month (May 31), National Public Radio (NPR) ran an interview on Science Friday with Thomas Insel, MD, Director of NIMH, Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, President of the APA, and Gary Greenberg, PhD, practicing psychotherapist. I didn’t hear the interview, but I have read the transcript.  Doctors Insel and Lieberman were spinning the barrage of criticism […]

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The Kinderman-Pies Debate

June 5, 2013

BACKGROUND On May 15, Peter Kinderman, PhD, of the University of Liverpool, posted an article on DxSummit.org.  It was called So…What Happens Next? The gist of the article was that psychiatric “diagnoses” are conceptually spurious, unhelpful, and even hindersome in practice, and discourage practitioners from pursuing genuine explanations for the problems clients bring to their […]

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Live Video Chat: DSM-5

May 21, 2013

Today I received the following email from Emily Underwood, a reporter with Science Magazine. I am a reporter with Science magazine — after reading your Twitter feed and blog I thought you might be interested in a live video chat I’m hosting this week on the controversy surrounding the DSM V. My guests are Allen Frances of Duke […]

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The Problem with DSM

May 17, 2013

There’s an interesting article in the NY Times Sunday review.  You can see it here.  It was written by Sally Satel MD, a psychiatrist, currently a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. The article is called:  “Why the Fuss Over the DSM-5?”  Dr. Satel’s central point is that psychiatrists only treat symptoms anyway and […]

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Dr. Insel Changes His Mind

May 15, 2013

Well, as I guess everybody knows by now, Dr. Insel has changed his mind.  On April 29, he stated that the weakness of DSM “…is its lack of validity.”  He went on to express the view that his agency, NIMH, (the US government’s mental health research arm) “…cannot succeed if we use DSM categories…”  You […]

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The Empire Strikes Back: APA Responds to NIMH

May 13, 2013

BACKGROUND On May 3, 2013, David Kupfer MD (DSM-5 Task Force Chair) responded to Thomas Insel’s April 29th unequivocal attack on the validity and usefulness of DSM.  You can see Dr. Kupfer’s response here.  Essentially Dr. Insel said that the categories set out in the DSM did not correspond to anything in the real world, […]

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Mental Distress Is Not An Illness

May 7, 2013

BACKGROUND Sam Thompson (University of Liverpool) posted the following tweet on April 27: Can anyone point me to a good, succinct summary of the case for equating mental distress with illness?  (serious, non-sarcastic question) On the face of it, this looks like a straightforward question, and one might think that a straightforward answer could be […]

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Transforming Diagnosis: The Thomas Insel Article

May 5, 2013

BACKGROUND On April 29, Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH, published a paper called Transforming Diagnosis.  You can see it here. Dr. Insel is critical of DSM: “While DSM has been described as a ‘Bible’ for the field, it is, at best, a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each.” “The weakness is its […]

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Social Effect of DSM

May 5, 2013

I keep two dictionaries on my desk.  The first is a 1964 Webster’s; the second is a 2009 Webster’s.  This morning I looked up the word “depression” in both books. 1964: n. 1. a depressing or being depressed.  2. a depressed part or place; hollow or low place.  3. low spirits; dejection.  4. a decrease in […]

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Internet Addiction: A Bad Habit, Not An Illness

April 23, 2013

The DSM-5 drafting committee considered including Internet addiction in the upcoming revision, but eventually backed off, at least for now.  Apparently they decided to put it in the category “requiring further study.”  So it’ll be in DSM-6. Meanwhile, people are being given the “diagnosis” anyway – and of course, the “treatment.” AN ILLUSTRATIVE CASE I’m […]

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The Bereavement Exclusion and DSM-5

April 16, 2013

In DSM-IV, a “diagnosis” of major depressive disorder is based on the presence of a major depressive episode. A major depressive episode, in turn, is defined by the presence of five or more items from the following list during a two-week period: (1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by […]

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Defining Mental Illness

April 3, 2013

There’s a take-no-prisoners article by Paula Caplan on Psychology Today.  You can see Paula’s article here.  (Thanks to @yobluemama2 on Twitter for the link.) Here are some quotes: “…the now well-established facts that psychiatric diagnosis is unscientific, does not reduce human suffering, and causes many kinds of serious harm.” “…the chances even that two therapists […]

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Freudian Psychoanalysis is Better than Drugs

April 3, 2013

Today I received a short comment from Ruth Elliot on my post Psychiatric “Diagnoses” for Children.  Ruth linked to an article by Claudia Gold, MD.  Claudia is a Freudian psychoanalyst. My ideological orientation is behavioral, and if you were to ask people in this business:  what is the opposite of a behaviorist? you would probably […]

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DSM-5 Inter-Rater Reliability is Low

March 30, 2013

BACKGROUND There’s an article by Jack Carney, DSW, on this topic on Mad in America.  Jack refers to the DSM-5 field trials published earlier this year in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Inter-rater reliability is measured by a statistic called a kappa score.  A score of 1 means perfect inter-rater agreement; a score of 0 […]

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Psychiatric “Diagnoses” for Children

March 26, 2013

Today, courtesy of Monica, I came across an article by Marilyn Wedge, PhD.  It’s called Six Problems with Psychiatric Diagnosis for Children.   You can read it here. Here are some quotes: “Psychiatric diagnoses contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are not classified by causes like genuine medical diseases.” “Perhaps worst of […]

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Petition on Psychiatric “Diagnoses”

March 26, 2013

There’s an interesting new article by Paula Caplan here.  It discusses the harmful effects of psychiatric “diagnoses,” including the fact that because of these labels, people have lost their “… jobs, custody of children, health insurance, and the right to make decisions about their medical and legal affairs.” Paula also mentions a petition she created […]

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Muddled Thinking and Psychiatric “Diagnoses”

February 23, 2013

Until just a few years ago, the spurious nature of mental illness received little or no attention either in professional circles or in the general media. There were a few of us “cranks” who poked away at the issue, but peer condemnation was usually swift and outspoken.  On one occasion I was called an “anti-science […]

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More Thoughts on Dr. Novella’s Articles

February 22, 2013

This post is a continuation of my post Steven Novella M.D. and Mental Illness Denial. In Mental Illness Denial Part I, Dr. Novella makes the point that various parts of the brain enable us to do certain things, and that if we are doing these things dysfunctionally, or not well, or perhaps not at all, […]

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Psychiatric “Diagnoses” vs Real Diagnoses

December 11, 2012

Robert Whitaker’s website, Mad in America, is abuzz lately with articles challenging the medical model that underlies DSM and psychiatric “treatment” in general. Recently there was an article by Alice Keys, MD, called “Do Diagnoses Injure People?”  Of course I believe emphatically that they do, and I read the article. Much of the content is […]

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More Cracks in the Sandcastle: Anti-DSM Sentiment

October 31, 2012

Christopher Lane recently wrote an article called Anti-DSM Sentiment Rises in France. Here are some quotes:  “Anger and concern about the growing influence of the DSM in France, as well as over a number of related, prominent pharmaceutical scandals here, has culminated in the creation of Stop DSM, a professional and political group that is strongly opposed to the manual’s diagnostic […]

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Article by Bruce Thyer PhD

July 6, 2012

I came across an interesting article the other day. It Is Time to Rename the DSM, by Bruce A. Thyer, PhD, Florida State University, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 8, No. 1, Spring 2006 Dr. Thyer points out that although the DSM claims to be atheoretical, its contention that the various “mental illnesses” reside […]

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What’s New? APA Threats, Xanax, Etc.

January 23, 2012

Daniel Carlat’s blog carries an interesting item.  It seems that a lady named Suzy Chapman started a site called dsm5watch, in which she expressed criticism of the DSM.  Well, the APA didn’t like this and sent her a cease and desist letter, claiming that the string “DSM-5” is trademarked, and that she was infringing their […]

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DSM and Disability

December 12, 2010

Every society in every generation makes errors.  Some of the errors are minor.  Some are major.  One of the great errors of the 20th century was this:  we accepted the spurious notion that a wide range of life’s problems were in fact illnesses.  This spurious notion was initiated with good intentions – to provide shelter […]

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Sexual Disorders Are Not Illnesses

June 28, 2010

The central theme of this blog is that almost all the so-called mental illnesses listed in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual are nothing more than the ordinary everyday challenges of human existence. The psychiatric profession has “elevated” these problems to the status of disorders and illnesses to justify and legitimize their involvement in these […]

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Personality Disorders Are Not Illnesses

May 5, 2010

The central theme of this blog is that there are no mental illnesses. The concept of mental illness is a spurious invention of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals for the purpose of medicalizing normal human problems and selling drugs. The central tenet of the mental health system is that unusual, bizarre, and disturbing behaviors […]

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The So-Called Mental Illnesses Are Not Illnesses

April 15, 2010

The central theme of this blog is that mental illness is a spurious and invalid concept, which is promoted and developed by the American Psychiatric Association to legitimize the use of mood-altering drugs. It is certainly true that people display various problems in their daily lives and particularly in their interpersonal relationships.  The American Psychiatric […]

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Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

April 17, 2009

CONDUCT DISORDER The essential feature of Conduct Disorder, according to the APA, is a “repetitive and persistent pattern” of rule breaking or activity which violates other people’s basic rights. The manual identifies four broad categories of behavior under this heading: aggression; destruction of property; theft or deceitfulness; and serious violation of rules. DSM goes on […]

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How Can They Just Invent Illnesses?

March 25, 2009

The notion of a professional group such as the APA sitting in their councils and committees inventing illnesses for themselves to treat seems so preposterous that a measure of disbelief on the part of the reader is understandable.  In its historical context, however, the development is not so surprising.  The original 1952 DSM was very […]

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