Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life [NOOK Book]

Overview

From "the most powerful psychiatrist in America" (New York Times) and "the man who wrote the book on mental illness" (Wired), a deeply fascinating and urgently important critique of the widespread medicalization of normality

Anyone living a full, rich life experiences ups and downs, stresses, disappointments, sorrows, and setbacks. These challenges are a normal part of being human, and they should not be treated as psychiatric disease. However, today millions of people who are ...

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Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life

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Overview

From "the most powerful psychiatrist in America" (New York Times) and "the man who wrote the book on mental illness" (Wired), a deeply fascinating and urgently important critique of the widespread medicalization of normality

Anyone living a full, rich life experiences ups and downs, stresses, disappointments, sorrows, and setbacks. These challenges are a normal part of being human, and they should not be treated as psychiatric disease. However, today millions of people who are really no more than "worried well" are being diagnosed as having a mental disorder and are receiving unnecessary treatment. In Saving Normal, Allen Frances, one of the world's most influential psychiatrists, warns that mislabeling everyday problems as mental illness has shocking implications for individuals and society: stigmatizing a healthy person as mentally ill leads to unnecessary, harmful medications, the narrowing of horizons, misallocation of medical resources, and draining of the budgets of families and the nation. We also shift responsibility for our mental well-being away from our own naturally resilient and self-healing brains, which have kept us sane for hundreds of thousands of years, and into the hands of "Big Pharma," who are reaping multi-billion-dollar profits.

Frances cautions that the new edition of the "bible of psychiatry," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5), will turn our current diagnostic inflation into hyperinflation by converting millions of "normal" people into "mental patients." Alarmingly, in DSM-5, normal grief will become "Major Depressive Disorder"; the forgetting seen in old age is "Mild Neurocognitive Disorder"; temper tantrums are "Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder"; worrying about a medical illness is "Somatic Symptom Disorder"; gluttony is "Binge Eating Disorder"; and most of us will qualify for adult "Attention Deficit Disorder." What's more, all of these newly invented conditions will worsen the cruel paradox of the mental health industry: those who desperately need psychiatric help are left shamefully neglected, while the "worried well" are given the bulk of the treatment, often at their own detriment.

Masterfully charting the history of psychiatric fads throughout history, Frances argues that whenever we arbitrarily label another aspect of the human condition a "disease," we further chip away at our human adaptability and diversity, dulling the full palette of what is normal and losing something fundamental of ourselves in the process. Saving Normal is a call to all of us to reclaim the full measure of our humanity.

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Editorial Reviews

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Allen Frances doesn't deny responsibility. As the DSM IV Task Force leader, he admits that he oversaw a project that, according to him, failed to predict or prevent three new false epidemics of mental disorder in children: Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder and Childhood Bipolar Disorder. Now, with the advent of DSM-5, Frances sees the increasing medicalization of normality. "Psychiatric diagnosis," he writes, "is too important to be left with any small group or one profession." In this critique of DSM-5, he offers the perspective of one who has been inside the decision-making process.

Library Journal
Frances (emeritus, former dept. chair of psychiatry & behavioral science, Duke Univ. Sch. of Medicine) reveals significant, pernicious deficiencies in the psychiatric diagnostic system in this critique of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), now entering its fifth iteration. According to Frances, this endeavor to standardize psychiatric diagnosis is doomed to failure because, in the end, the classification is a product of human biases. The author's authority as chair of the Task Force for the DSM-IV, as well as a leader in a subgroup for the DSM-III and DSM-III-R, adds credibility to his argument. Biases of committee members, coupled with the financial interests of Big Pharma, he contends, have generated diagnostic fads, such as multiple-personality disorder. Popular diagnoses such as ADD have been overgeneralized to benefit the profits of pharmaceutical companies as medication is dispensed more liberally. Frances argues that "normal" has vanished because everyone qualifies for a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in life. VERDICT An indispensable guide for professional and lay readers of Peter D. Kramer's Listening to Prozac. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/12.]—Lynne Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA
MARCIA ANGELL
“An extraordinarily candid and important book. Allen Frances has written a fascinating account of the apparent explosion in psychiatric disorders in the United States.
Dr. LISA APPIGNANESI
Saving Normal is a riveting and important book, written with great flair and precise passion. This is a book every psychiatrist, every general practitioner, every student swallowing meds—in fact everyone—needs to read.”
Dwight Garner
“Frances delves deeply into the history of mental illness, makes his arguements crisply, and has good personal stories to tell. He’s articulate and learned. ... He’s in favor of not medicating, and thus muffling, all the offbeat pain and beauty out of existance. ... [A] piece of intellectual skywriting.”
CNN.com
“Frances is largely credited with spearheading the anti-DSM-5 efforts.”
JOSH BAZELL
Saving Normal is a clear, convincing, and essential discussion of the twin epidemics facing modern psychiatry: under-treatment of the truly ill and overtreatment of the basically well. It holds immense potential to improve patients’ lives.”
Booklist (starred review)
“With Solomon-like wisdom, Frances justly doles out blame and offers reasonable remedies. His decree: don’t medicalize human difference; celebrate it.”
Metapsychology
“Allen Frances’s book is fascinating. ... Entertaining.”
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
“Authoritative. ... Valuable. ... This is a detailed, nicely constructed account by a highly qualified and well-connected psychiatrist with intimate knowledge of the process. The book is clearly written and surprisingly easy reading.”
Kirkus Reviews
Frances weighs in with a no-holds-barred critique of the newly revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As the DSM IV Task Force leader, the author does not duck responsibility for the problematic nature of the manual, which he describes as a "cultural icon" and "perennial best seller." Not anticipating the diagnostic creep, "we failed to predict or prevent three new false epidemics of mental disorder in children--Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Childhood Bipolar Disorder." In the author's view, too often clinicians adopt labels from the manual to cover up their own sloppy and even faddish diagnoses. He predicts that the situation will worsen with the new edition. Once considered a rare disease, "CBD [childhood bipolar disorder] has become the most inflated bubble in all psychiatric diagnosis." Frances anticipates that the DSM V's inclusion of Asperger's in the autism spectrum will cause problems, possibly leading to a reduction of special school programs that help students with Asperger's at one end of the spectrum, and disability benefits for the extremely disabled at the other. While accepting his own and fellow psychiatrists' failure to predict the problem of label creep, the author ascribes most responsibility to pharmaceutical companies, which have "hijacked the medical profession" and created "a feeding frenzy of over-diagnosis, over-testing, and over-treatment." He attributes the current obesity epidemic to side effects of modern antipsychotics, and he charges drug companies with complicity in promiscuously pushing antipsychotics on patients with "garden-variety" anxiety or shyness and broadening the definition of childhood bipolar disease to encompass temper tantrums and moodiness. In a partial effort of exculpation and mea culpa, Frances explains that his team began work in the "pre-Prozac days of 1987." A valuable assessment for clinicians and potential patients.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062229274
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 216,776
  • File size: 676 KB

Meet the Author

Allen Frances, M.D., was the chairman of the DSM-IV Task Force and part of the leadership group for DSM-III and DSM-III-R. He is professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University School of Medicine.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Makes you think twice about the diagnosis that you get from the

    Makes you think twice about the diagnosis that you get from the doctor and the medication you take.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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