The American Psychiatric Association, the oldest national medical society in the United States, was established in 1844. Known then as the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, the association was founded by 13 physicians from nine states who shared an interest in promoting research on mental illness and better treatment for the mentally ill.1 The identity of psychiatry as a medical specialty emerged gradually during the second half of the 19th century. In 1892 the name of the organization was changed to the American Medico-Psychological Association.
The first half of the 20th century saw two parallel and sometimes conflicting developments: emphasis on descriptive diagnosis (especially the distinction between schizophrenia and affective disorders) and the growing influence of psychoanalysis. In 1921 the current name of the organization, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), was adopted.
During the second half of the 20th century, dramatic developments in psychiatric
Glass RM, Vergare MJ. Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychiatric DisordersA History of Progress. JAMA. 1994;272(22):1792. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520220086036