American Psychiatric Association

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The American Psychiatric Association is the largest professional body of psychiatrists in the United States, and in the world. It has some 36,000 members as of 2013. The association is the primary party responsible for the publication and distribution of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which they first published in 1947 for the uniform classification of psychiatric conditions. They are located out of Arlington, VA. The American Psychiatric Association should not be confused with the American Psychological Association, which was founded six decades later.


In 1844, thirteen superintendents drawn from the then existing twenty-four mental asylums met in October in Philadelphia, PA at the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital. There they established 'The Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane' (AMSAII). The Association's objectives were "to communicate their experiences to each other, to cooperate in collecting statistical information relating to insanity and assisting each other in improving the treatment of the insane."

In 1851, the AMSAII formally adopted propositions proposed by Thomas Story Kirkbride, M.D., Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, for the design and organization of mental asylums. These policies dictated the architecture of state hospitals for over fifty years.

The Association's name was official changed to 'The American Medico-Psychological Association' in 1892. Thus permitting physicians working in mental hospitals, as well as in private offices eligiblity for membership. This was again changed in 1921, to its curretn name- the American Psychiatric Association.

American Journal of Psychiatry

The American Journal of Insanity (AJI) was first published in June of 1844, by Amariah Brigham, the Superintendent of Utica State Hospital. He was said to have been the author of the entire first issue, which included six articles, a list of existing mental asylums in the U.S., and notes on insanity from France. His aim for the journal was to acquaint its readers with the nature and varieties of mental illness and with methods of prevention and care for patients.

The AJI remained the property of the Utica State Hospital, though it served as the official publication of the Superintendents’ Association. In 1892, the journal was bought outright by the association; and in 1921, the name was changed to the present 'American Journal of Psychiatry' by The American Psychiatric Association.

Presidents of the American Psychiatric Association

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