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Overdiagnosis and Overmedication of Normal, a Conversation with Dr.Allen Frances

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Saint Jude Retreats Radio

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This episode features the topic of overmedication- overuse of psychiatric medications and the general attempt to diagnose normal behavior. The topic was provoked by the show's guest, Dr. Allen Frances and his critique on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, also known as the DSM-V. Dr. Frances was the chair of the task force that produced the previous version, DSM-IV, he is a published author( Saving Normal) and founding editor of two medical journals. His blog “Saving Normal” quickly became popular because of the author’s unique perspective.

The radio show opens with the host and Executive Director of Saint Jude Retreats, Michelle Dunbar, touching on the subject of what Saint Jude Retreats is and the philosophy behind it. Trending topics follow with local and national news connected to overmedication. The featured news include a recently discovered correlation between the boom in ADHD diagnoses and the implementation of the standardized tests in schools. The second feature news piece is the deeply disturbing story of Justina Pelletier, who was taken from her parents and kept at Boston Children’s hospital against her will.

The interview with our guest follows, as Dr. Frances and Mrs. Dunbar discuss the new DSM-V, as well as the trend of labeling normal behavior as an addiction. Both touch on the subjects of aggressive marketing strategies of the pharmaceutical companies to popularize prescription medication, the legalization of medical marijuana, and the unsuccessful War on drugs.

The radio show ends with Dunbar answering questions by listeners, which this week touched on two topics- a concerned relative of overmedicated 8 year old boy, diagnosed with ADHD seeking advice on how to address the issue with the boy’s mother, and later a question from a high school student who is under a lot of stress and is considering taking medication to help her focus.

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