Evelyn Lee Visiting Scholar Lecture in Cultural Competence and Diversity

My Journey Through Madness

Elyn R. Saks, JD, PhD
Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences
USC Gould School of Law


Elyn Saks, JD. PhD, is a legal scholar and mental health-policy advocate whose work and life story are expanding the options for those suffering from severe mental illness. Trained at Oxford in philosophy, at Yale in jurisprudence, and the New Center for Psychoanalysis in psychoanalytic science, Saks is recognized by mental health professionals and legal scholars alike as an important contributor to national debates on mental health policy.

She has played a major role in discussions of mental health law, patients’ rights, and multiple-personality disorder, including such issues as involuntary commitment, competency to be executed, proxy consent, and the right to refuse treatment. 

Her contributions and commitment to mental health law took on a personal dimension with the publication of her 2007 memoir, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, in which she made public for the first time her lifelong struggle with schizophrenia, including severe episodes of psychosis as well as experiences with misguided or harmful treatments. She has won numerous honors, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.

Saks used her funds from the MacArthur Fellowship to create the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at USC, a think tank that studies issues at the intersection of law, mental health, and ethics.

She is currently the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry, and the Behavioral Sciences at the USC Gould School of Law; Director of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine; and faculty at the New Center for Psychoanalysis. She served as USC Law's associate dean for research from 2005-2010 and also teaches at the Keck School of Medicine.


Grand Rounds presentations are for educational purposes and intended for a professional audience only.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 8:00am to 9:30am

HSW-301 Auditorium
513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, California 94143

Event Type

Grand Rounds, Lecture/Seminar, Academic


School of Medicine


Students, Postdocs, Faculty








Department of Psychiatry



Contact Info

Gina Martinez, (415) 476-7755, gina.martinez@ucsf.edu