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American Psychiatric Association

A national medical society whose approximately 40,500 members—physicians and medical students—specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders.

The oldest medical specialty society in the United States, the American Psychiatric Association was founded in October 1844, when thirteen physicians who specialized in the treatment of mental and emotional disorders met in Philadelphia and founded the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane. (It is interesting to note that this forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association preceded the American Medical Association, which was founded in 1847.) The goals of the physicians meeting in Philadelphia were to communicate professionally, cooperate in the collection of data, and improve the treatment of the mentally ill.

The American Psychiatric Association's objectives are still designed to advance care for people with mental illnesses: to improve treatment, rehabilitation, and care of the mentally ill and emotionally disturbed; to promote research, professional education in psychiatry and allied fields, and the prevention of psychiatric disabilities; to advance the standards of psychiatric services and facilities; to foster cooperation among those concerned with the medical, psychological, social and legal aspects of mental health; to share psychiatric knowledge with other practitioners of medicine, scientists, and the public; and to promote the best interests of patients and others actually or potentially using mental health services.

The American Psychiatric Association supports psychiatrists and their service to patients through publications such as the American Journal of Psychiatry, the oldest specialty journal in the United States, and the Psychiatric News, the Association's official newsletter, as well as numerous books, journals, and reports. The Association's annual meeting attracts more than 15,000 attendees and features hundreds of sessions and presenters. Additionally, the Association schedules more than 200 meetings each year among its councils, committees, and task forces to advance the cause of mental health. The American Psychiatric Association also offers a comprehensive continuing medical education program to its members. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), an authoritative reference work, is published by American Psychiatric Association.

Further Information

American Psychiatric Association. 1400 K Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 682–6000.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychology Organizations