Here is a controversial TEDX. “In this talk Daniel Amen says “ I’m going to give you the single most important lesson my colleagues and I have learned from looking at 83,000 brain scans.” That is “when you have the privilege of changing someone’s brain you not only change his or her life you have the opportunity to change generations to come.” There is a great deal of controversy about what Amen does with diagnoses and treatment however, while John Seibyl of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has stated that there is no debate that SPECT is not valuable for diagnosing psychological disorders;  a 2012 review by the American Psychiatric Association found that neuroimaging studies “have yet to impact significantly the diagnosis or treatment of individual patients.”


Why you should watch:

Amen’s practices use single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, scans of brain activity in an attempt to compare the activity of a person’s brain to a known healthy model. Amen prescribes both medication and non-medicative courses of treatment, depending on the case. He also performs before-and-after SPECT scans, which claim to assess how well treatment is working. Amen is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has also been an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior in the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine. However, in 2012, The Washington Post Magazine ran a cover story titled “Daniel Amen is the most popular psychiatrist in America. To most researchers and scientists, that’s a very bad thing.” The Washington Post detailed Amen’s lack of acceptance among the scientific community and his monetary conflict of interest.

 Who Is He?

Daniel Gregory Amen is an American psychiatrist, a brain disorder specialist, director of the Amen Clinics, and a ten-times New York Times bestselling author. He received his undergraduate biology degree from Southern California College in 1978[11] and his medical degree from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine in 1982.[12][13] Amen did his general psychiatric training at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.,[13] and his child and adolescent psychiatry training at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.[13] Amen fulfilled 200 hours of training to obtain his radioactive materials license from the Institute of Nuclear Medicine Education. He then carried out the required 1,000 hours of clinical supervision in reading scans.[2] Amen is double board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. As a student in training for X-ray technician, his professors said ‘How do you know, unless you look?’. Should this “Look” become routine in treating psychiatric illnesses?
  2. Why did Amen “fall in love with psychiatry?
  3. What is SPECT – Single-photon emission computed tomography – and what does it do?
  4. SPECT basically tells us three things about the brain good activity, too little, or too much. What does this mean? Explain to someone your thinking for your answer.
  5. “Did you know that psychiatrists are the only medical specialists that virtually never look at the organ they treat? Think about it, cardiologists look, neurologists look orthopedic doctors look; virtually every other Medical Specialties look. Psychiatrists guess.” Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
  6. A man says that mild traumatic brain injury leads to major behavioral changes. What evidence does he use to support this statement?

Making the Connections:

Books by Daniel Amen

Change your brain, change your life

Healing ADD Revised Edition: The Breakthrough Program that Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD 

Healing Anxiety and Depression: Based on Cutting-Edge Brain Imaging Science


The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans with Daniel Amen


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