Daniel G. Amen: The Controversial Brain Doctor

You may have heard of Daniel G. Amen through his books, TED talks or his appearances on TV shows like Dr. Phil. He is a psychiatrist and brain health expert, who has been in the limelight for over two decades. He is best known for advocating the use of SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scans to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders.

But not everyone agrees with his methods. Some even consider him a controversial figure. In this article, we’ll examine the man, his methods, and the controversy surrounding him.

Who is Daniel G. Amen?

Daniel Amen was born on 5 July 1954 in Encino, California. He graduated summa cum laude from Southern California College in 1978. He then obtained his MD degree from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine in 1982.

He is the founder of Amen Clinics, a chain of clinics that offer brain health services and treatment. He has also authored many books, including “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” “Healing ADD,” and “Memory Rescue.” He has also appeared in many documentaries, TV shows, and podcasts, promoting his mission to help people optimize their brain health.

What is the Amen method?

The Amen method is based on Daniel Amen’s use of SPECT scans to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders. SPECT scans are a type of brain imaging that reveal blood flow and activity in different areas of the brain. Amen uses the scans to identify areas of the brain that are overactive, underactive or damaged, and then prescribes treatment accordingly.

Amen also emphasizes the importance of lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, and supplements, as a way to improve brain health. His Brain Smart program, which includes these lifestyle changes alongside personalized brain health treatments, has been popular among his patients.

Are SPECT scans legitimate?

SPECT scans are a type of brain imaging that is commonly used to detect brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain abnormalities. However, they are not considered a standard diagnostic tool for psychiatric disorders. The American Psychiatric Association does not recommend the routine use of SPECT scans for the diagnosis or treatment of psychiatric disorders.

Critics of Amen’s methods argue that SPECT scans are not specific enough to diagnose specific psychiatric disorders and are not reliable enough to guide treatment. They also criticize the high cost of the scans, which can be as much as several thousand dollars, and the lack of insurance coverage for this type of imaging.

Dr. Amen and Quackwatch

Dr. Amen has been the target of criticism by the website Quackwatch, which describes itself as a “guide to quackery, health fraud and intelligent decisions.” The site’s founder, Stephen Barrett, has accused Amen of promoting unproven and expensive treatments and has labeled him a “promoter of mental and nutritional nonsense.”

Amen has sued Barrett and Quackwatch for defamation in the past and has been successful in court. However, the site still lists Amen as a practitioner that they believe promotes questionable treatments.

Does Amen Clinic take insurance?

Amen Clinics do accept insurance, but their policies vary by location. They also offer financing and payment plans for patients who cannot afford the full cost of treatment upfront.

Amen Clinic reviews

Reviews of Amen Clinics are mixed online. Some patients praise the personalized treatment and attention they receive, while others criticize the high cost and limited insurance coverage. The clinics have an overall rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews, based on over 400 reviews.

Is Dr. Amen a quack?

The controversy surrounding Dr. Amen’s methods has led some to question his legitimacy as a healthcare provider. While there is no clear-cut answer, it is important to note that Amen is a licensed medical doctor who has authored many peer-reviewed papers. However, some experts in the field of psychiatry disagree with his methods and choices of treatment.

The Doc Amen controversy

Another aspect of the controversy surrounding Daniel Amen is his personal life. He has had multiple marriages and has been accused of misconduct by his first wife. She claimed that he was controlling, abusive, and frequently used his position of power to overrule her in medical decisions.

While the accusations against Amen remain controversial, it’s clear that his methods and beliefs will continue to spark debate in the medical community.


Daniel G. Amen has made a name for himself in the field of brain health and psychiatry. He has helped people understand the importance of lifestyle changes and personalized treatment for optimum brain health. However, his use of SPECT scans and controversial treatment methods have led to criticism and questions about his legitimacy as a practitioner. It’s important for patients to research and understand the risks and benefits of any treatments they receive and to consult with their doctor before making any significant health decisions.