Phoebe Friesen

Assistant Professor

514-398-6336 | phoebe.friesen [at] | 3647 Peel, 302 

Phoebe Friesen is an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Equity, Ethics and Policy and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University and an Associate member in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychiatry.   She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the CUNY Graduate Center and an M.A. in philosophy from Western University. From 2018 – 2019 she worked as a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford.


Research Interests

Dr. Friesen’s interests span several questions that arise at the intersections of medical ethics, psychiatry, philosophy of science, and research ethics. Among other topics, she has written about the harms of failing to acknowledge the impact of the placebo effect in both research and clinical contexts, the issue of inconsistency within and across research ethics boards, the role of responsibility in the allocation of health care resources, the promises and challenges related to participatory research, and the importance of requiring consent for educational pelvic examinations on women under anesthetic. For more information, visit her website.

Selected Publications

Friesen, P., (2024) Why Democratize Psychiatry? Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology.

Swartz, A., Friesen, P. (2023) The First Smart Pill: Digital Revolution or Last Gasp? Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Skorburg, A., Doherty, K., Friesen, P. Persons or datapoints?: Ethics, artificial intelligence, and the participatory turn in mental health research. American Psychologist.

Byju, A., Friesen, P., (2023) Making Up Monsters, Redirecting Blame: An Examination of Excited Delirium. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology.

Friesen, P., Goldstein, J. (2022) Standpoint Theory and the Psy Sciences: Can Marginalization and Critical Engagement Lead to an Epistemic Advantage? Hypatia.

Friesen, P., Luke Gelinas, Aaron Kirby, David H Strauss, Barbara E Bierer (2022) IRBs and The Protection-Inclusion Dilemma: Finding a Balance. American Journal of Bioethics (target article)

Friesen, P. (2022) Psychosis and Psychedelics: Historical Entanglements and Contemporary Contrasts. Transcultural Psychiatry.

Friesen, P., Gligorov, N., (2022) White Ignorance in Pain Research: Racial Differences and Racial Disparities. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Friesen, P., Perez, T., Towle, S., (2021) Birthing Alone: An Ethical Analysis of Pandemic Policies Banning Birthing Partners. International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics.

Friesen, P., Goldstein, J., Dixon, L. (2021) A ‘Blip in the Road’: Experiences of Identity after a First Episode of Psychosis. Psychosis: Psychological, Social, and Integrative Approaches.

Shevlin, H., Friesen, P. (2020) Pain, Placebo, and Cognitive Penetration. Mind and Language, 1-21.

Friesen, P. (2020) Towards an Account of the Placebo Effect: A Critical Evaluation Alongside Current Evidence, Biology & Philosophy, 35 (1): 1-23.

Friesen, P. (2020) Medically Assisted Dying and Suicide: How are the different, and how are they similar? The Hastings Center Report, 50 (1), 32-43.

Friesen, P. (2019) Expanding Outcome Measures in Schizophrenia Research: Does RDoC Pose a Threat? Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology, 26 (3), 243-260.

Friesen, P. (2019) Mesmer, the Placebo Effect, and the Efficacy Paradox: Lessons for Evidence Based Medicine and Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Critical Public Health, Special Issue: Pseudo Matters in Global and Public Health, Eds. Kingori, P. and Gerrets, R. 29 (4), 435-447.

Friesen, P. (2018) Educational Pelvic Exams on Anesthetized Women: Why Consent Matters Bioethics. 32(5), 298-307.

Courses Given

Dr. Friesen teaches a graduate seminar on Bioethical Theory (a required course in the Specialization in Bioethics Master’s Program), Dissecting the Placebo Effect (an elective for 4th year medical students), and is Director of the Medical Ethics and Health Law components of the medical school curriculum.

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