Issues in American psychiatry reflected in remarks of APA presidents, 1844-1994

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

History, 19th Century; History, 20th Century; Hospitals, Psychiatric; Hospitals, Public; Humans; Psychiatry; Societies, Medical; United States


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


OBJECTIVE: The author reviewed the history of American psychiatry for the first 150 years of the American Psychiatric Association's existence (1844-1994) as reflected in remarks of the association's presidents.

METHODS: Presidential addresses or remarks from alternative sources were located for the 120 presidents who served the association between 1844 and 1994.

RESULTS: The presidents' remarks on six topics-psychiatric practice, etiology of mental illness, public mental hospitals, alternatives to state hospitals (deinstitutionalization), biologic treatments, and fiscal issues were sampled and arranged chronologically.

CONCLUSIONS: American psychiatry's history--its innovations, cyclical repetitions, and self-assessments-can be gleaned from this form of data. The presidents' remarks appear to refute the claim that organized American psychiatry has been negligent in criticizing itself.

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Citation: Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1994 Oct;45(10):993-1004.

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