Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral SciencesUSC Gould School of Law
Work: (213) 740-7572
Fax: (213) 740-5502
699 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074 USA
• Download vCard
• Download Curriculum Vitae
Elyn R. Saks specializes in mental health law, criminal law, and children and the law. Her recent research focused on ethical dimensions of psychiatric research and forced treatment of the mentally ill. She teaches Mental Health Law, Mental Health Law and the Criminal Justice System, and Advanced Family Law: The Rights and Interests of Children. She served as USC Law's associate dean for research from 2005-2010 and also teaches at the Institute of Psychiatry and the Law at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and is an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
Prof. Saks was a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and in fall 2010 announced she is using funds from the "genius grant" to create the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics. The Institute spotlights one important mental health issue per academic year and is a collaborative effort that includes faculty from seven USC departments: law, psychiatry, psychology, social work, gerontology, philosophy and engineering.
Prof. Saks recently published The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion, 2007), a memoir about her struggles and successes with schizophrenia and acute psychosis. Other publications include Refusing Care: Forced Treatment and the Rights of the Mentally Ill (University of Chicago Press, 2002), Interpreting Interpretation: The Limits of Hermeneutic Psychoanalysis (Yale University Press, 1999), and Jekyll on Trial: Multiple Personality Disorder and Criminal Law (with Stephen H. Behnke, New York University Press, 1997).
Before joining the USC Law faculty in 1989, Prof. Saks was an attorney in Connecticut and instructor at the University of Bridgeport School of Law. She graduated summa cum laude from Vanderbilt University before earning her master of letters from Oxford University and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she also edited the Yale Law Journal. She holds a Ph.D. in psychoanalytic science from the New Center for Psychoanalysis. Saks is a member of Phi Beta Kappa; an affiliate member of the American Psychoanalytic Association; a board member of Mental Health Advocacy Services; and a member of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Foundation, Robert J. Stoller Foundation, and American Law Institute. Prof. Saks won both the Associate’s Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship and the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award in 2004.
Works in Progress
- Competency to Consent to Treatment and/or Research: New Directions (under contract with University of Chicago Press)
- “Retributive Constraints on the Concept of Competency: The Required Role of ‘Patently False Beliefs’ in Understanding Competency to be Executed.” (in press at Behavioral Sciences and the Law)
- “Informed Consent to Research” (with Stephen H. Behnke). (to be published in American Psychologist)
- “Some Ethical Dimensions in Longitudinal Research” (with Lissy Jarvick)
- “Some Misconceptions about the ‘Therapeutic Misconception’” (with Barton Palmer and Dilip V. Jeste)
- “Informed Consent to Psychoanalysis” (empirical project)
- “Competency to Refuse Treatment: An Empirical Study of Judges’ Understanding of this Concept in California, Massachusetts, and New York” (empirical project)
Informed Consent to Psychoanalysis: The Law, The Theory, and The Data (with Shahrokh Golshan) (Fordham University Press, 2013).
- The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion, 2007).
- Refusing Care: Forced Treatment and the Rights of the Mentally Ill (University of Chicago Press, 2002).
- Interpreting Interpretation: The Limits of Hermeneutic Psychoanalysis (Yale University Press, 1999).
- Jekyll on Trial: Multiple Personality Disorder and Criminal Law (with Stephen H. Behnke) (New York University Press, 1997).
Articles and Book Chapters
“The Status of Status Offenses: Helping Reverse the Criminalization of Mental Illness.” 23 Southern California Review of Law & Social Justice 367 (Spring 2014).
“Forcible Medication of Civil Committees: The Most Appropriate Standard.” 2 Mental Health Law & Policy Journal 233 (2013).
“Competency to Refuse Medication: Revisiting the Role of Denial of Mental Illness in Capacity Determinations.” 22 Southern California Review of Law & Social Justice 167 (2013).
"A Conversation between Roburt A. Burt and Elyn R. Saks about Saks’ book, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness" (with Roburt A. Burt) (in press at American Imago).
- "Retributive Constraints on the Concept of Competency: The Required Role of 'Patently False Beliefs' in Understanding Competency to be Executed" (in press at Behavioral Sciences and the Law).
"The Politics of Mental Illness: A Professor’s Story, Going Public After Tenure," 19 The American Prospect 7 (2008).
"Commentary: The Importance of Accommodations in Higher Education," 59 Psychiatric Services 376 (2008).
- "Meta-Consent in Research on Decisional Capacity: A 'Catch-22?'" (with Laura B. Dunn and Barton W. Palmer). 32 Schizophrenia Bulletin 42.
"Proxy Consent to Research: The Legal Landscape" (with Laura B. Dunn, Jessica Wimer, Michael Gonzales and Scott Kim), 8 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 37 (2008).
- "Decisional Capacity to Consent to Research in Psychosis: An Analysis of Errors" [abstract] (with A.R. Kaup, B.W. Palmer and L.B. Dunn). 14 Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 117 (2008).
"Prevalence and Correlates of Adequate Performance on a Measure of Abilities Related to Decisional Capacity: Differences Among Three Standards for the MacCAT-CR in Patients with Schizophrenia" (with L.B. Dunn, B.W. Palmer, P.S. Appelbaum, G.A. Aarons, and D.V. Jeste) Schizophrenia Research (2007).
“Assessing Decisional Capacity for Clinical Research or Treatment: A Review of Instruments” (with L.B. Dunn, M.A. Nowrangi, B.W. Palmer and D.V. Jeste) American Journal of Psychiatry (2006).
- “Capacity to Consent to or Refuse Treatment and/or Research: Theoretical Considerations” (with Dilip V. Jeste). 24 Behavioral Sciences and the Law 411 (2006).
“Decisional Capacity in Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders: Empirical Database and Policy Implications” (with Dilip V. Jeste) 24 Behavioral Sciences and the Law 607 (2006).
- “Response — Our Debt to Jay Katz.” 6 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics 415 (2006).
- “A Collaborative Model for Research on Decisional Capacity and Informed Consent in Older Patients with Schizophrenia: Bioethics Unit of a Geriatric Psychiatry Intervention Research Center” (with D.V. Jeste, L.B. Dunn, B.W. Palmer, M. Halpin, P. Appelbaum and L. Schneiderman). 171 Psychopharmacology 68 (2004).
- “Refusing Care: Forced Treatment and the Use of Psychiatric Advance Directives.” 4 Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice 35 (2004).
- "Involuntary Outpatient Commitment." 9 Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 94 (2003).