Dr. Daniel Amen: A Comprehensive Guide on His Work and Controversies

Dr. Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and author renowned for his work on brain imaging and neuropsychiatry. He is the founder of Amen Clinics, which offers brain SPECT imaging and provides assessment and treatment for a range of mental health conditions. Despite his numerous accolades and acclaim from some of his patients, Dr. Amen’s work has been the subject of numerous controversies.

This article provides an in-depth review of Dr. Amen’s work, including his SPECT imaging technique, his Brain Smart Program and other recommendations for brain health. We’ll also delve into some of the controversies surrounding his work, including his personal life, past lawsuits, and criticisms from the scientific community.

Dr Amen’s Early Life and Career

Dr. Daniel Amen was born in Encino, California, in 1954. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Southern California College in 1978 and his Doctor of Medicine from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine in 1982. After completing his psychiatric residency at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., he went on to serve in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of major.

After leaving the army, Dr. Amen worked at several different hospitals and clinics and started to specialize in neuropsychiatry. It was during this time that he began to develop his interest in brain imaging and the use of SPECT scans in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues.

Dr. Amen’s Work on SPECT Imaging

SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) is a type of brain imaging that uses a radioactive tracer to create three-dimensional images of brain function. Dr. Amen claims that SPECT scans can help diagnose a range of mental health conditions, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more.

According to Dr. Amen, SPECT scanning can help identify patterns of brain activity that are associated with specific psychiatric disorders. For example, individuals with ADHD may show decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, while those with depression may show decreased activity in the limbic system.

While some studies have found that SPECT scans can be useful for diagnosing certain mental health conditions, there is also significant debate within the scientific community about the validity and reliability of these scans. Many experts believe that more research is needed to determine the value of SPECT imaging in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues.

Dr. Amen’s Brain Smart Program

In addition to his work on SPECT imaging, Dr. Amen has also developed a range of other techniques for promoting brain health. His Brain Smart Program includes dietary recommendations, exercise regimens, and supplements designed to improve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Some of the key components of Dr. Amen’s Brain Smart Program include:

  • Eating a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients that support brain health.
  • Engaging in regular exercise, which has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain and promote the growth of new brain cells.
  • Practicing stress reduction techniques, such as mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises, to reduce the negative impact of stress on the brain.
  • Taking supplements such as vitamin D, B vitamins, and fish oil, which have been linked to better cognitive function and brain health.

While some of these recommendations have some scientific backing, there is also debate over the efficacy of these approaches and the relative importance of each component in promoting brain health.

Dr Amen’s Controversies

Dr. Amen’s work has been subject to numerous controversies over the years, both in terms of his personal life and professional practices. Some of the main controversies include:

  • His personal life: Dr. Amen has been married multiple times, and his first wife, Robin, has accused him of emotional abuse and neglecting their children. Dr. Amen has denied these allegations, but they have still raised concerns among some patients and colleagues.
  • Criticisms of SPECT imaging: Many experts in the scientific community have criticized Dr. Amen’s use of SPECT imaging, arguing that the scans are not reliable or valid for diagnosing mental health conditions.
  • Lawsuits against Dr. Amen: Dr. Amen has been involved in several lawsuits over the years, including one case in which he was accused of ordering unnecessary SPECT scans for patients and another in which he allegedly misdiagnosed a patient with ADD and prescribed her Vyvanse, which led to severe side effects.
  • Criticisms from Quackwatch: Quackwatch, a website that monitors and exposes fraudulent medical practices, has criticized Dr. Amen’s work as unscientific and misleading.

While some of these controversies may raise questions about Dr. Amen’s credibility as a physician and researcher, it is important to note that many of his patients have reported significant improvements in their mental health after undergoing his treatments.

Dr. Amen’s Clinics

Amen Clinics are private facilities that specialize in neuroimaging, assessment, and treatment for a range of mental health conditions. The clinics offer a range of services, including brain SPECT imaging, psychotherapy, and medication management.

It is worth noting that Amen Clinics are not covered by most insurance plans, and the cost of treatment can be very high. A full evaluation at an Amen Clinic can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $15,000, depending on the specific services and tests required.


Dr. Daniel Amen is a well-known psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has made significant contributions to the field of brain imaging and neuroscience. However, his work has also been subject to numerous controversies, including criticisms of his use of SPECT imaging and his personal and professional practices.

While it is important for patients and healthcare professionals alike to be aware of these controversies, it is also worth considering the many success stories of Dr. Amen’s patients and the potential benefits of his Brain Smart Program and other treatments. Ultimately, each individual must decide for themselves whether Dr. Amen’s methods are the right fit for their needs and values.