The United States Psychiatric Association: Social Psychiatric Prediction #4

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Should the American Psychiatric Association change its name?

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What’s in a name? A lot, as any parent or child knows well. Names evoke admiration, dislike, embarrassment, curiosity, and other reactions. My whole first name is Hillard, but I have always used Steven as preferred by my mother and myself. People can also have the same first or last names, or initials of their complete name.

Organizations prefer to trademark their name. But in terms of mental health, 2 organizations have similar names and exact initials: the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, both APAs. We know that the public often does not understand the differences between psychiatrists and psychologists anyways, and having 2 APAs certainly does not help to differentiate the 2 related professions. Actually, there are other APAs that have some connection to mental health, such as the American Philosophical Association.

This confusion is why, off and on, I have recommended that one of them change its name. But who should do it? The smaller organization? The one who got the name last?

Maybe the one who does so will consider that the American part of its name has some not so positive associations, maybe even an imperialistic one in this age of wokeness and political correctness. How so? There is much more to America than the United States. There is North America, Central America, and South America, all with various countries. Psychologically speaking, what gives the United States the right to claim the word and what kind of cultural sensitivity and respect is that?

The solution I would recommend, if not predict, is for the American Psychiatric Association to switch to the United States Psychiatric Association (USPA). Goodness knows, we would be unique and have an opportunity for a public relations campaign as to our unique identity. A much less desired alternative in my mind would be a breakaway USPA to supplement or rival the American Psychiatric Association.

What do you think?

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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