A forensic psychiatrist specializing in suicidology, addiction medicine, drug testing, risk management, violence, and trauma-related disorders, Dr. Beckson is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Health Sciences Clinical Professor at UCLA, and an addiction psychiatrist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. For over 18 years, Dr. Beckson directed the psychiatric intensive care unit of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, focusing on risk assessment and risk management of suicidal and violent patients with substance-induced and primary psychotic disorders and mood disorders, addiction, dual diagnosis, addiction/pain issues, PTSD, and hospital safety. Dr. Beckson is board certified in forensic psychiatry and addiction medicine. In addition, he is a certified forensic suicidologist, certified forensic autopsy investigator, certified medical review officer, and certified correctional health professional. Dr. Beckson was a National Institute on Drug Abuse/VA research psychiatrist, where he co-directed the brain imaging program, studying psychostimulants, neurotoxicity, and novel medications for the treatment of addictions. Dr. Beckson also directed VA substance abuse treatment programs, and created an addiction day hospital that was selected by VA Central Office for publication in a national guide to VA “innovations of care.” He served as expert reviewer for the California Medical Board; and has maintained interests in impaired professionals, workplace drug testing, and drug abuse/mental illness in law enforcement and corrections contexts. Dr. Beckson has consulted to governmental entities and private corporations; and has provided expert witness testimony in criminal, civil, administrative, and labor matters in the United States and Canada.

Educational History

Education & Post Graduate Training

  • Harvard College A.B. magna cum laude in Biochemical Sciences, 1980
  • Cornell University Medical College M.D., 1985
  • New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Internship, 1985-1986
  • University of California, Los Angeles/Neuropsychiatric Institute
    Psychiatry Residency and Chief Residency, 1986-1989
    Fellowship in Neurobehavior, 1989-1991

Harvard College

A.B. magna cum laude
Biochemical Sciences
Harvard College

Cornell University
Medical College

Psychiatry Residency and Neurobehavioral Fellowship
UCLA School of Medicine

Awards and Recognition

  • Service Award: 25 Years, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – 2016
  • Certificate of Appreciation: Exemplary Performance in the Realm of Patient Safety; Management of High Risk Patients with Severe Mental Disorders. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – 2012
  • Director’s Recognition: Outstanding Contribution in Improving Patient Safety, Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – 2005
  • Distinguished Fellow: American Psychiatric Association – 2003
  • VA Innovations of Care: Intensive Outpatient Treatment of Addictions, Day Hospital; Recognition by Central Office U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – 1997

Academic Appointments & Certifications

  • Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles
  • American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology: Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry
  • American Board of Addiction Medicine: Addiction Medicine
  • American Association of Suicidology: Certified Forensic Suicidologist
  • Medical Review Officer Certification Council: Medical Review Officer
  • National Commission on Correctional Health Care: Certified Correctional Health Care Professional


► Fischer CA, Beckson M, Dietz P.  A case of factitious disorder in a patient claiming to be a sexually sadistic serial killer with homicidal ideation.  American Journal of Forensic Sciences, in press, 2017.

► Kim A, Beckson M, Jones AW, Berman AL.  Psychological autopsy and postmortem toxicology in forensic psychiatry.  In: Rosner R, Scott C, Eds.  Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, Third Edition.  New York: CRC Press, pp. 105-111, 2017.

► Scott C, Wagoner R, Beckson M. Personal injury litigation. In: Scott C, Ed. DSM-5 and the Law: Changes and Challenges. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 177-200, 2015.

► Beckson M, Tucker D. Commentary: Craving diagnostic validity in DSM-5 substance use disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 42:453–458, 2014.

► Bullock CM, Beckson M. Male sexual assault: phenomenology, psychology, physiology. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 39:197-205, 2011.

► Simpson JR, Beckson M. Methamphetamine in criminal court. American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Newsletter 34(1):18-19, 2009.

► Vari G, Beckson M, Weinstock R. Legal issues in inpatient psychiatry. In: Ovsiew F, Munich RL, Eds., Principles of Inpatient Psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008, pp. 139-153.

► Beckson M. Adolescent substance use and addiction (Special Section Editor’s Introduction). Annals of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry 29:3-17, 2005.

► Beckson M, Bartzokis G, Weinstock R. Substance abuse and addiction. In: Rosner R, Ed. Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, Second Edition. London: Arnold, 2003, pp. 672-684.

► Beckson M, Bartzokis G. Brain disease: forensic neuropsychiatric issues. In: Rosner R, Ed. Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, Second Edition. London: Arnold, 2003, pp. 603-611.

► Bartzokis G, Beckson M, Lu PH, Edwards N, Rappaport, Wiseman E, Bridge P. Age-related brain volume reductions in amphetamine and cocaine addicts and normal controls: Implications for addiction research. Psychiatric Research: Neuroimaging Section 98(2): 93-102, 2000.

► Bartzokis G, Beckson M, Newton T, Mandelkern M, Foster JA, Ling W, Bridge P. Selegiline effects on cocaine-induced changes in medial temporal lobe metabolism and subjective ratings of euphoria. Neuropsychopharmacology 20: 582-90, 1999.

► Beckson M, Schaefer M. Sex, drugs, and compulsivity: HIV risk and clinical medication trials. In: Problems of Drug Dependence 1995: Proceedings of the Fifty-Seventh Annual Scientific Meeting, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Inc. (NIDA Research Monograph Series 162: 46-48). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.

► Beckson M, Cummings JL. Psychosis in basal ganglia disorders. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, and Behavioral Neurology 5: 126-131, 1992.

► Beckson M, Cummings JL. Neuropsychiatric aspects of stroke. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 21(1): 1-15, 1991.

Professional Activities

► Suicidology Committee, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2005—Present
► Aggregate Parasuicide Root Cause Analysis Team, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, 2003—Present
►Judicial Action Committee, California Psychiatric Association, 2008-2012
►Co-Chair, Patient Rights Committee, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, 1998-2011
► Quality, Academics and Research Advisory Board, Jail Mental Health Services, County of Los Angeles, 2007-2010
► Chair, Addiction Psychiatry Committee, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2005-2009
►Chair, Task Force on Adolescent Substance Abuse, American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, 2003-2005
► Research and Development Committee, Brentwood VA Hospital, 1993-1996

►Staff Psychiatrist: Substance Use Disorders Programs, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System; 2016 – Present
►Private Practice of Psychiatry: Addiction Medicine, Forensic Psychiatry; 1997 – Present
►Medical Director: Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System; 1997 – 2016
►Chief & Founder: Intensive Outpatient Treatment of Addictions Day Hospital, VA Medical Center West Los Angeles; 1995 – 1997
►Chief & Founder: Substance Abuse Consultation Team, VA Medical Center West Los Angeles; 1995
►Program Director: Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program, VA Medical Center West Los Angeles; 1991 – 1995
►Consulting Psychiatrist: Didi Hirsh Community Mental Health Center, Culver City, California; 1988 – 1998
►Attending Psychiatrist: Consultation-Liaison Service, University of California, Los Angeles; 1990 – 1991
►Staff Psychiatrist (Voluntary): Student Psychological Services, University of California, Los Angeles; 1989 – 1991

► Academy of Correctional Health Professionals 
► American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
► American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
► American Association of Medical Review Officers
► American Association of Suicidology
► American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
► American Psychiatric Association
► California Psychiatric Association
► International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
► Society for Risk Analysis
► Southern California Psychiatric Society