VIDEO: The Hidden Toll of DSM-5 on Psychotherapy

How Increasing Medication Sales Hurt the Therapy Profession

Allen Frances—author of Saving Normal: Has Psychiatric Diagnosis Gotten Out of Control?—is one of DSM-5’s most outspoken critics, but his ultimate target is an even larger issue. “Putting aside all the problems with DSM-5,” he says in an interview in the March/April 2014 issue of the Networker, “the simple fact is that psychiatric diagnosis has become way too loose.”

“When the diagnostic system gets loosened,” Allen tells us in this video clip, “the major economic effect is a dramatic increase in the sales of medications. And with this increase comes a tightening on the psychotherapy benefit because so much money gets funneled into the drug companies.”

“The drug companies are spending $70 billion advertising their products,” he says. “In contrast, psychotherapists are mom-and-pop operations. It’s not a fair fight–there’s no psychotherapy advertising industry. Nevertheless, psychotherapy for mild to moderate conditions is just as effective as drug treatment with longer effects. If you step back and think about a lifetime of being on unnecessary medication, which could have been avoided if psychotherapy had been the initial treatment, the lifetime costs are much less to keep people away from medication.”


Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.