chapter  13
10 Pages

Benevolent Misdiagnosis: Fraud by Euphemism in the Mental Health Professions

ByNathaniel J. Pallone, James J. Hennessy

The charges of misconduct in professional psychology focus on sexual liaisons between therapists and their clients, while charges of fraud typically concern billing practices. Yet scant attention has been paid either in the scientific or professional literature to a widespread practice in the psychological professions namely, fraud by benevolent misdiagnosis. One suspects that benevolent misdiagnosis became a feature of the conceptual landscape in the mental health professions when the costs of mental health care began to shift from the patient to health insurance carriers. Unless we are willing to accept an explanation that veers in the direction of gross incompetence among members of the mental health professions, it would be foolhardy to discount consciously inaccurate diagnosis by benevolence and/or euphemism as a major contributing factor. A soundly anchored public policy for the planning of programs and services in mental health and the charting of personnel needed to staff such programs and services would seem to require data of several sorts.