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The Fight against Disease Mongering: Generating Knowledge for Action

  • Published: April 11, 2006
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030191
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

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Confessions of a Disease Monger

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:52 GMT

Author: James Phelps
Position: Medical Director
Institution: Co-Psych.com, PsychEducation.org
E-mail: jimp@psycheducation.org
Submitted Date: April 24, 2006
Published Date: April 24, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

I am a disease monger. I teach primary care doctors how to identify bipolar disorder. Worse yet, I take money from pharmaceutical companies for doing so. I use it to subsidize my practice so that I can treat patients with no insurance, or little money, who now account for over a third of my patients -- in part because the pharmaceutical companies have drained so much money out of the health care system. Ironic, isn't it?

My website is #1 on Google for searches on bipolar II. See if you think it looks like disease mongering. Hundreds of people have written thanking me for explaining bipolar II and the concept of a bipolar spectrum, indicating that this new perspective really helps them understand their longstanding symptoms. To my immediate recall, none have complained about being led astray by an overbroad interpretation of bipolarity.

Notice that, just like your guest editor Mr. Moynihan, I could be mongering even now, as I too have a new book. At least I'm not trying to attract attendees to my conference. Tricky, isn't it. Has there been an oversimplification in this analysis?

(My website earned an Honorable Mention, Moffic Award for Ethical Practice in Community Psychiatry, 2005)

Competing interests declared: Disease Monger
(see www.PsychEducation.org, Funding page)