Researcher’s Profile


Paul S. Appelbaum, MD

Director, Division of Law, Ethics & Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry

Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, and Director, Division of Law, Ethics and Psychiatry at Columbia, was previously A.F. Zeleznik Distinguished Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry; and Director, Law and Psychiatry Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr. Appelbaum is the author of many articles and books on law and ethics in clinical practice. Dr. Appelbaum is Past President of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, and has twice served as Chair of the Council on Psychiatry and Law and of the Committee on Judicial Action for the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Dr. Appelbaum is currently Chair of the DSM Steering Committee for APA, and of the Standing Committee on Ethics of the World Psychiatric Association. He has received the Isaac Ray Award of the American Psychiatric Association for "outstanding contributions to forensic psychiatry and the psychiatric aspects of jurisprudence," was the Fritz Redlich Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Appelbaum performs forensic evaluations in civil and criminal cases, and treats patients with a broad variety of problems, including depression, anxiety, and adjustment problems.


I have a general psychiatric practice, with a particular emphasis on depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorders. My patients receive psychotherapy and/or medications, according to their needs and preferences.</p>

Research Statement: 

Dr. Appelbaum's research focuses on how legal and ethical rules affect medical practice and research, including informed consent, decisional capacity, mandatory treatment, advance directives, and confidentiality. He has a special interest in ethical and legal implications of neuropsychiatric genetics.

Dr. Appelbaum is involved in funded projects examining: functioning of IRBs at major medical centers around the country; therapeutic misconception in consent to research; use of behavioral genetic data in the courts; the consequences of returning genomic data to research subjects; unrealistic optimism in consent to medical research; use of N-of-1 trials; and impact of genetic conceptualizations of illness in Africa. He leads a NHGRI-funded center for research on ethical, legal, and social implications of psychiatric, neurologic and behavioral genetics.


Appelbaum PS, Gutheil TG: Clinical Handbook of Psychiatry and the Law, 4th ed, Lippincott/Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2007

Berg JW, Appelbaum PS, Lidz CW, Parker L: Informed Consent: Legal Theory and Clinical Practice, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA, 2001

Grisso T, Appelbaum PS: Assessing Competence To Consent To Treatment: A Guide for Physicians and Other Health Professionals. 1998

Appelbaum PS: Almost a Revolution: Mental Health Law and the Limits of Change. 1994

Anfang SA, Appelbaum PS : Forensic evaluation of the older patient, in Agronin ME, Maletta GJ (eds.), Principles and Practice of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Lippincott/Williams & Wilkins., Lippincott/Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia,PA,USA, 2011