Is Psychotherapy Becoming Overly Diagnostic?

Allen Frances on Why DSM-5’s New Diagnoses Aren’t Necessary

One of the most note-worthy changes in the DSM-5 is the abundance of new diagnoses that are included in this new edition. Many DSM-5 critics worry that this is an indication of the reckless power that Big Pharma has over the psychotherapy industry; more diagnoses means more opportunities to choose medication over talk therapy, which is the road more and more practitioners are pressured into taking in order to be reimbursed.

These criticisms have become so common that they may seem like fear mongering. But it’s hard to dismiss the potential problems with the DSM-5 when one of its foremost critics, Allen Frances, served as Chair of the DSM-IV Task Force.

In this video clip, Allen talks about the diagnosis selection process he used in DSM-IV, and how limiting the addition of new diagnoses managed to both maintain the integrity of psychotherapy and leave the pharmaceutical companies unharmed.


Allen Frances, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at Duke University and former Chair of its Department of Psychiatry. He was Chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, and is the author of Saving Normal and Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis. This clip is taken from his session in our DSM-5 video course:

The Uproar Over DSM-5: How The New Standards Affect Your PracticeLike it or not, DSM dictates how we think about mental disorders, diagnoses, clinical research, and insurance coverage. The changes in this new edition will affect how you practice, and this series covers what you need to know:

  • The major controversies and heated debates surrounding this new edition and why they matter
  • The new structure of DSM-5 and how it differs from DSM-IV
  • Why specific diagnostic categories have been introduced and others eliminated
  • The new, more precise specifiers necessary for diagnosis
  • Other practical changes that will impact your clinical work and insurance reimbursement
  • The forces that shaped DSM-5—economic, scientific, and political
  • The role that neuroscience increasingly plays in psychological diagnosis and how that will impact the DSM moving forward
  • Powerful Insights from DSM experts—proponents, critics, and clinicians on the front line.

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