Elyn Saks

Elyn Saks is associate dean and the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the U.C. San Diego School of Medicine, and a research clinical associate at the New Center for Psychoanalysis, among other posts. She recently published The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion, 2007), and has authored three other books on law and mental health.

Recent Articles

A Professor's Story

Going public about mental illness is not like revealing any other kind of disease.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my dearest friend, Steve, flew across the country to be with me. I opened my apartment door, and he smiled and reached for a hug. Looking over my shoulder past our embrace, he remarked on the many bouquets I'd received since my diagnosis. When you go to the hospital with a physical illness, people send flowers. When you go to a mental hospital with a mental illness, they don't. Stigma against mental illness is everywhere. One evening, I was walking to my car with a colleague, who was on a tirade over a violent crime committed by a mentally ill person, reported in the newspaper that day. I said that mentally ill people were, on average, no more dangerous than others and certainly less dangerous than people who abuse substances. Expressing disbelief, my colleague remarked, "Maybe I'm just prejudiced. I mean, I've never known anyone with mental illness." I responded, "You mean you never knew anyone you knew had a mental illness." With a twinkle in her...