Paul Biegler is a journalist, academic and former specialist physician in emergency medicine. His new book Why Does It Still Hurt?: How the Power of Knowledge Can Overcome Chronic Pain is published by Scribe in January 2023. He is the author of The Ethical Treatment of Depression (MIT Press 2011) which won the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics.
In 2020 Paul was one of two finalists for the Finkel Foundation Eureka Prize for Long Form Science Journalism. In 2012 he was awarded the Media Prize of the Australasian Association of Philosophy for an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on climate scepticism and a Radio National interview on his book.
Paul’s journalism covers health and science and includes feature articles in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, Australian Financial Review, Cosmos magazine, New Philosopher and Arena. He penned the ethics column at Cosmos alongside fellow columnists Alan Finkel, Chief Scientist of Australia, and broadcaster Norman Swan. Paul was runner up in the New Philosopher writing prize for his essay The Ill-fitting Self.
Paul is a Teaching Associate at the Monash Bioethics Centre and lectures in health ethics to students undertaking the medical degree at Monash University. He has a Masters degree (2002) and PhD (2008) in Bioethics from Monash University.
Between 2010 and 2014 Paul held an Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship and Discovery Grant (AU$450,000), also at Monash. His ARC research looked at the ethics of using subconscious persuasive techniques in the advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals. It produced the first ever study showing that “evaluative conditioning”, the use of pleasing imagery to produce positive attitudes, not only occurs with prescription medicines but causes viewers to hold more positive beliefs about a drug’s safety and effectiveness.
Paul’s PhD examined the moral distinctions between antidepressants and psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, concluding that doctors ought to provide evidence-based psychotherapy in all cases, on the grounds that it better promotes patient autonomy. His Masters thesis argued that patient consent should be required before doctors write a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, an issue that remains contentious.
Paul’s academic work has appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics, British Medical Journal, Medical Journal of Australia and Journal of Medical Ethics, among others. He has published two recent book chapters under the Oxford University Press imprint; on ethical issues in psychotherapy and the treatment of depression.
Paul graduated MBBS from Monash University in 1987 and practised as a doctor for nearly twenty years, the last decade as an emergency physician. He is a Fellow of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and, after working for 18 months as an anaesthetist in the UK in the 1990s, has a Diploma of Anaesthetics from the Royal College of Anaesthetists.