Amen Clinics

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Amen Clinics
Founded1989 (1989)
FounderDaniel G. Amen
Area served
Newport Beach, California, San Francisco, California, Atlanta, Georgia, Reston, Virginia, Bellevue, Washington, New York City

Amen Clinics is a group of mental and physical health clinics that work on the treatment of mood and behavior disorders. It was founded in 1989 by Daniel G. Amen, a self-help guru and psychiatrist.[1][2] The clinics perform clinical evaluations and brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging to diagnose and treat their patients.[3][4] Amen Clinics uses SPECT scans, a type of brain-imaging technology, to measure neural activity through blood flow.[5][6] It has a database of more than 100,000 functional brain scans from patients in 111 countries.[7]

Amen Clinics has locations in Newport Beach, California; San Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Reston, Virginia; Tukwila, Washington ; Chicago; Los Angeles; and New York City.[4][8]

The American Psychiatric Association has criticized the clinical appropriateness of Amen's use of brain scans, stating: "[T]he clinical utility of neuroimaging techniques for planning of individualized treatment has not yet been shown."[9]


Amen Clinics was founded in 1989. It has been using brain SPECT in an attempt to diagnose and treat psychiatric illness since 1991.[10] Amen Clinics incorporates questionnaires, clinical histories, and clinical interviews in its practice.[5][11] Some Amen Clinics locations also use quantitative electroencephalography as a diagnostic tool.[12] Amen Clinics has scanned 50,000 people at an estimated cost of $170 million according to Daniel Amen.[13]

As of 2014, Amen Clinics had a database of more than 100,000 functional brain scans.[7] The subjects are from 111 countries with ages from 9 months to 101 years old.[7] The database was funded in part by Seeds Foundation in Hong Kong, and developed by Daniel Amen with a team of researchers including Kristen Willeumier.[7]

Amen Clinics has worked to treat athletics-related brain damage for professional athletes, including current and 117 former National Football League players.[14][15]


Amen Clinics uses SPECT scans to measure blood flow and activity patterns in the brain.[4][5][16] The company also uses diagnostics such as questionnaires, clinical histories, and clinical interviews.[5] Amen Clinics claims that SPECT scans enable doctors to tailor treatment to individual patients' brains. A retrospective study released by Amen in 2010 showed that "regional cerebral blood flow, as measured by SPECT, predicted stimulant response in 29 of 157 patients."[17]

Harriet Hall has written critically about SPECT scans in articles for Quackwatch and for the Science-Based Medicine website.[18][19] Hall accuses the clinics of misrepresenting an unproven treatment as effective, of concealing important warning information, and of creating false hopes by promising things that can't be done.[18] She dismisses the scans as "pretty pictures" and says that although Amen himself seems to believe in his approach, "humans are very good at fooling themselves".[18]

A 2011 paper co-authored by the neuroscientist Anjan Chatterjee discussed example cases that were found on the Amen Clinic's website. The paper noted that the example cases "violate the standard of care" because a normal clinical diagnosis would have been sufficient and functional neuroimaging was unnecessary.[13] According to the American Psychiatric Association, "the clinical utility of neuroimaging techniques for planning of individualized treatment has not yet been shown."[9]


  1. ^ James Butcher (2008). "Neuropolitics gone mad". The Lancet Neurology. 7 (4): 295. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70056-5. S2CID 54411790.
  2. ^ "License Information". Medical Board of California. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  3. ^ Dawn Ford (October 9, 2012). "The Seniors' Situation Room Edition 5 by Dawn Ford". Cornwall Free News. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Everett Catts (October 18, 2012). "Brain expert speaks in Buckhead, opens Sandy Springs clinic". Neighbor Newspapers. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Daniel Carlat (May 19, 2008). "Brain Scans as Mind Readers? Don't Believe the Hype". Wired. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  6. ^ Daniel G Amen; Manuel Trujillo; Barry Chaitin (2011). "Brain SPECT Imaging in Complex Psychiatric Cases: An Evidence-Based, Underutilized Tool". Open Neuroimaging Journal. 5: 40–8. doi:10.2174/1874440001105010040. PMC 3149839. PMID 21863144.
  7. ^ a b c d Kathy Mahdoubi (13 October 2014). "New SPECT database holds 100K scans for psychiatric study". Molecular Imaging. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Amen Clinics & Brain Spect Imaging". Brain World Magazine. October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  9. ^ a b American Psychiatric Association (2006). American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: Compendium 2006. American Psychiatric Pub. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-89042-385-1.
  10. ^ Daniel G. Amen (26 April 2010). "Change Your Brain, Change Your Body". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  11. ^ Eliza Shapiro (14 December 2012). "Can Daniel Amen Read Your Mind?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  12. ^ Zoë Kessler (2014). "Shawn Ladd's Excellent Amen Clinics Adventure – Part I". Psych Central. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  13. ^ a b Chancellor, B.; Chatterjee, A. (2011). "Brain Branding: When Neuroscience and Commerce Collide". AJOB Neuroscience. 2 (4): 18–27. doi:10.1080/21507740.2011.611123. S2CID 17157310.
  14. ^ Leigh Steinberg (3 September 2013). "Death of the NFL: Part 2". Forbes. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  15. ^ Rick Maese (7 June 2012). "NFL concussions lawsuits aim to improve the damaged brain". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  16. ^ Bhattacharya, Sanjiv (6 February 2013). "Dr Daniel Amen interview: the shrink who believes technology will replace the couch". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  17. ^ Adinoff & Devous, 2010 Response to Amen Letter American Journal of Psychiatry
  18. ^ a b c Hall, Harriet (8 April 2008). "SPECT Scans at the Amen Clinic – A New Phrenology?". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  19. ^ Harriet Hall, M.D. (15 November 2007). "A Skeptical View of SPECT Scans and Dr. Daniel Amen". Retrieved 3 October 2013.

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