American Psychiatric Association

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by Professor Allen J. Frances, M.D. Chairperson of the American Psychiatric Association DSM-4 Task Force

This blog was originally Published on December 2, 2012 in DSM5 in Distress at

This is the saddest moment in my 45 year career of studying, practicing, and teaching psychiatry. The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has given its final approval to a deeply flawed DSM 5 containing many changes that seem clearly unsafe and scientifically unsound.  My best advice to clinicians, to the press, and to the general public – be skeptical and don’t follow DSM 5 blindly down a road likely to lead to massive over-diagnosis and harmful over-medication.  Just ignore the ten changes that make no sense.

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The USA is the home of ADHD child drugging with at least 2.7 million children currently taking ADHD ‘medications’.[1] As American psychologist Dr Leonard Sax points out, given that many of the supposed benefits of medication for ADHD children relate to education, ‘you would expect American children to be racing ahead in their school work’; but as it is, ‘France, Germany, and Japan continue to maintain their traditional lead over the United States in tests of math and reading ability’.[2] Similarly, if ADHD drugs worked, measures of social functioning like juvenile crime rates would be lower in countries with high prescribing rates like the US. Clearly America’s ‘medicated’ children are not doing so well.

Australia should hardly be using America as the ‘model’ for enhancing the welfare of children. However, the reliance of Australian psychiatric practice on imported American Psychiatric Association (APA) diagnostic criteria, over which the Australian medical profession has no control, leaves Australian consumers, particularly children, vulnerable to the same forces that make America the home of indiscriminate psychiatric drugging.

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