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Elyn Saks    

Author of "The Center Cannot Hold" on Her Battle With Schizophrenia; Associate Dean of Law, Psychology, and Behavioral Sciences at USC Law

Elyn R. Saks is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School. She teaches law and mental health to law students, undergraduates, and psychiatry and psychology fellows within the California school system and beyond.

Saks writes extensively in the area of law and mental health, having published five books and more than fifty articles and book chapters. Her research has included the ethical dimensions of psychiatric research and forced treatment of people with mental illness.

Her best-selling memoir, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, describes her struggles with schizophrenia and her managing to craft a good life for herself in the face of a dire prognosis. In revealing her powerful story, she has become an advocate for mental patients' civil rights and is striving to dispel the myths surrounding an illness that affects 3 million Americans.

“For 20 years I struggled with acceptance... Ironically, the more I accepted I had a mental illness, the less the illness defined me — at which point the riptide set me free,” she says.

She has won numerous honors, including a 2009 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (the so-called “Genius Grant”). In 2013, she was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to a three-year term on the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) National Advisory Council. She also serves as a board member of Mental Health Advocacy Services, Bring Change 2 Mind, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the Burton Blatt Institute.

Saks received her JD from Yale Law School, and a PhD in Psychoanalytic Science from the New Center for Psychoanalysis. She was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LLD, Hon) from Pepperdine University.

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