Sally L. Satel[1] (born January 9, 1956)[2] is an American psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. She is a lecturer at Yale University School of Medicine, a visiting professor of psychiatry at Columbia University,[3] a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and an author.

Sally L. Satel
Born (1956-01-09) January 9, 1956 (age 68)
Alma materCornell University;
University of Chicago;
Brown University

Satel has written: P.C. M.D.: How Political Correctness is Corrupting Medicine (2001) and Drug Treatment: The Case for Coercion (1999).



She received a kidney on March 4, 2006, from writer Virginia Postrel, after being diagnosed in 2004 with chronic kidney failure. She wrote an article in The New York Times chronicling her experience of searching for an organ donor.[4] Sally Satel is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank. Her articles have been published in The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and in scholarly publications like Policy Review on topics including psychiatry and addiction.



Satel earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, a master's degree from the University of Chicago and an MD degree from Brown University. She completed her residency in psychiatry at Yale University between 1988 and 1993. In 1993 and 1994, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Satel also served on the advisory committee of the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.



In her book P.C. M.D., Satel critiques what she sees as the burgeoning phenomenon of politically correct (PC) medicine, which seeks to address what its proponents view as social oppression by reorganizing the distribution of public health resources. She argues that incorporating social justice into the mission of medicine diverts attention and resources from the effort to prevent and combat disease for everyone. She is considered a political conservative,[5] a description she rejects.[6]

In a June 2004 meeting of the National Advisory Council for the Center for Mental Health Services, Satel called for an increase in the amount of funding for responsible involuntary care for psychiatric patients who are a danger to themselves or to others, or who are gravely disabled.

Satel supports legally recognizing same-sex marriages.[7]

She supports the medical prescription of opioids such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Percodan/Percocet [immediate release]; OxyContin [slow release])), morphine or methadone to relieve the pain of patients for whom nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other interventions have proved ineffective. Satel acknowledges that such opioids have abuse potential. She points to data showing that people who abuse prescribed medications often have a history of substance abuse, or they are currently in psychological distress or have a psychiatric illness. Data also show they are not typically pain patients who fell unwittingly into a drug habit.[8] Satel's employer, AEI, has received funding from Purdue Pharma,[9] a company known as the maker of OxyContin, one of the many drugs abused in the opioid epidemic in the United States. Satel claimed that she was not aware that Purdue had provided funding to AEI and that at she reached her conclusions independently.[9]

Selected works

External videos
  Presentation by Satel on PC, M.D., January 8, 2001, C-SPAN
  Booknotes interview with Satel on PC, M.D., July 15, 2001, C-SPAN
  Presentation by Satel and Christina Hoff Sommers on One Nation Under Therapy, April 16, 2005, C-SPAN
  Presentation by Satel on When Altruism Isn't Enough, August 24, 2009, C-SPAN
  After Words interview with Satel on Brainwashed, June 7, 2013, C-SPAN
  Presentation by Satel on Brainwashed on August 30, 2014, C-SPAN
  • 1999 – Drug Treatment: The Case for Coercion. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. [77 p.] ISBN 0-8447-7128-7.
  • 2001 – P.C. M.D.: How Political Correctness is Corrupting Medicine. Perseus. ISBN 0-465-07183-X.
  • 2005 – One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance (with Christina Hoff Sommers). St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-30443-9.
  • 2006 – The Health Disparities Myth: Diagnosing the Treatment Gap. AEI Press. [92 p.] ISBN 0-8447-7192-9.
  • 2013 – Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience (with Scott O. Lilienfeld). Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-01877-2.

See also