“Can We Replace Misleading Terms Like Mental Illness, Patient, and Schizophrenia?”


On Huffington Post, psychiatrist Allen Frances discusses his mixed feelings about many commonly used but misleading psychiatric terms, and asks what good replacements for them might be.

Frances then has an exchange with MIA Blogger Anne Cook, co-author of the recent “Understanding Psychosis” report, about the possibility of altogether dispensing with terms like “schizophrenia” and “mental illness”, but Frances writes that he is reluctant to accept such an approach.

Can We Replace Misleading Terms Like ‘Mental Illness,’ ‘Patient,’ and ‘Schizophrenia’ (Huffington Post, April 5, 2015)


  1. “In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.” – Thomas Szasz.

    Psychiatry is such farcical theater. Terms are invented and discarded. Diagnoses are fabricated and falsified.

    Do people really want to understand psychosis? One way to do this would be to ingest a handful of psychotropic drugs and wait to see what happens. That person would understand “psychosis” better than Freud and all of his intellectual posterity.

    Rather than replacing terms like “schizophrenia” and “mental illness,” why don’t we start by understanding where these terms came from. Who invented them? Why? Do a little research. Chase the rabbit down the hole. You will find that “schizophrenia” and “mental illness” are about as real as the tooth fairy or the Easter Bunny. (sorry kids)

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  2. This is the Huffington Post’s idea of looking critically at psychiatry: ask one of its leaders what he thinks. I have never seen them ever ask anyone with a psychiatric history to write anything. The fact that they treat people like me as non-persons tells you just what their attitude is toward these issues. It is a genteel version of “lock them up and throw away the key”

    These establishment liberals are the WORST when it comes to our issues.

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  3. I don’t see a problem. The labels change every few years anyway, closely following the patenting opportunities. We used to have hysteria and Asperger’s, now we have orthorexia. It’s all a bunch of horse***t.

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  4. It is difficult to comprehend how mr. Allen can both critizise diagnostic categorization:
    “Mental illness” is terribly misleading because the “mental disorders” we diagnose are no more than descriptions of what clinicians observe people do or say, not at all well established diseases.
    … and then proceed to call for accurate diagnostics:
    I don’t trust clinicians who […] can’t make an accurate diagnosis.
    It appears it is difficult for him to follow his own logic…

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