Allen J. Frances on the overdiagnosis of mental illness


“It’s always better to under-diagnose than over-diagnose.”—Allen J. Frances

This talk is worth watching.

As a side note, I hope that readers of this site, especially Buddhists and/or those practicing FIML, will understand at least some of what Frances is saying as being about how societies organize their semiotics. We still use priest-like figures with esoteric knowledge and identifiable clothing and mannerisms to write large tomes (the DSM) that define what is real or healthy or normal.

FIML practice is designed to put much more of the process of defining who you are in the hands of partners themselves. My comments are not directed at Frances, who does a good job with his talk. I just want to point out that the ways our common semioses are organized or structured are very much subject to political and economic forces as well as to the power of the media and society’s hierarchical institutions. FIML gives partners an opportunity to rationally discover and redefine the terms and semiotics that contribute to how they see themselves as individuals and how they see the world(s) they live in. I think Buddhism is supposed to do much the same thing, but Buddhism itself has been subject to the same kinds of forces as the DSM, resulting in much of the teachings becoming little more than a static semiotic–or culture-bound standard–that, though good and helpful, is less than optimal.

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