Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Office: PAIS 493
Additional Contact Information
Department of Psychology
36 Eagle Row
Atlanta, GA 30322
Dr. Westen is a clinical, personality, and political psychologist. He received his A.B. at Harvard University, an M.A. in Social and Political Thought at the University of Sussex, England, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to Emory, he taught at the University of Michigan and Harvard Medical School, and was Chief Psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Dr. Westen has held multiple grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health, primarily on personality pathology in adolescents and adults, and published numerous scholarly books and articles, including Self and Society: Narcissism, Collectivism, and the Development of Morals (Cambridge University Press, 1985), an interdisciplinary approach to evolution, culture, and development that remains in press; multiple editions of an introductory psychology textbook, Psychology: Mind, Brain, and Culture (Wiley, first edition 1996), and The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation (Public Affairs/Perseus), which has influenced campaigns and elections around the world.
He is currently working on a follow-up to The Political Brain, after 15 years of research as a political consultant, on how to talk with voters about a wide range of issues, from abortion, immigration, the changing demographics of the U.S., and unconscious or implicit prejudice, to economics, taxes, climate change, and healthcare reform. He has advised a range of organizations, from U.S. presidential campaigns and presidential and ministerial campaigns internationally, to nonprofit organizations, foundations, and the Democratic Caucuses of the U.S. Senate and of the House of Representatives. He has also been a frequent contributor on political and psychological issues on radio, television, and in print, in venues such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN.
- PSYC 330: Theories of personality
- PSYC 385: The psychology of political persuasion in American electoral politics (cross-listed with Political Science)
- PSYC 485: Treating the patient with the symptom
Dr. Westen’s research focuses on the classification, diagnosis, and etiology of personality and personality disorders in adolescents and adults; the relation between clinical and empirical approaches to psychiatric diagnosis, and the use of prototype diagnosis as a way of bridging clinical and empirical diagnostic processes; and the nature of evidence-based practice. Over the course of his career, he has also contributed to the research literatures on affect regulation and dysregulation; eating disorders; political psychology and political neuroscience; and psychodynamics.
Dr. Westen is currently not accepting graduate students.
Please see Dr. Westen's CV for a full list of his publications.
Recent & Forthcoming Publications
Nakash, O., Nagar, M., & Westen, D. (in press). Concordance between clinician, patient and independent interviewer’s identification of suicidality. Israeli Journal of Psychiatry and Related Disorders.
Westen, D., & Heim, A. (in press). Theories of personality disorders. In Oldham, J., Skodol, A., & Bender, D., Textbook of Personality Disorders, 3rd edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing. Arlington, VA.
Nakash, O., Nagar, M., Razon, L., & Westen, D. (in press). Association between attachment patterns and personality disorders: A multi-method multi-informant study using a clinical sample. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
Westen, D. (2020, June 22). Democrats should steer clear of ‘defunding the police.’ Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/06/22/democrats-should-steer-clear-defunding-police/
Westen, D. (2020, May 8). How to win an election. Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/202004/how-win-election
Nagar, M., Nakash, O., & Westen, D. (2020). Unpacking childhood experiences of abuse: can clinicians identify their patients' history of abuse? Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 396-408. https://doi.org/10.1080/15299732.2020.1719264
Westen, D. (2020, March 20). Solving the coronavirus economic downturn — good psychology makes for good politics and policy. The Hill, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/488612-solving-the-coronavirus-economic-downturn-good-psychology-makes-for-good
Nakash, O., Nagar, M., & Westen, D. (2019). Validity and clinical utility of DSM and empirically derived prototype diagnosis for personality disorders in predicting adaptive functioning. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 10(2), 105-113. doi:10.1037/per0000293.
For those interested in Dr. Westen's political writing, television, and radio commentaries, please visit Dr. Westen's Media