History Notes
The American Neurological Association: Early Days and Relations With Psychiatry
Psychiatric News
Volume 42 Number 11 page 11-11

The American Neurological Association (ANA) was organized in 1875. Dr. S. Weir Mitchell was elected to the presidency but declined to serve, and Dr. J.S. Jewell of Chicago assumed the office. (Dr. Weir accepted the presidency in 1909). In 1874 Dr. Jewell had founded the Chicago Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, which became the official journal of the ANA. Local neurological associations were established in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, and their proceedings were published regularly in the journal.

ANA members believed that the brain was the organ of the mind and that the study and treatment of mental disease were within their purview. Their meetings and journal were mainly concerned with neurological topics but almost always included papers and discussions related to mental disorders. At the annual ANA meeting in 1876, Dr. George Beard of New York presented a paper titled "The Influence of the Mind on Causation and Cure of Disease," much to the derision of his colleagues. At the 1877 meeting, Dr. H. Bannister of Chicago read a paper on moral insanity, saying," This form of disease may or may not exist."

Relations between the ANA and the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (renamed the Medico Psychological Association in 1892 and the American Psychiatric Association in 1921) were distinct. Soon after the ANA was founded, an amendment to its constitution was proposed to deny membership to any physician officially connected with any mental institution, but it was not adopted. Dr. Richard Noyes of Boston State Hospital became an ANA member in 1888, as did Dr. Henry Stedman, the head of a private hospital near Boston; he was elected ANA president in 1906. Other prominent psychiatrists who became members around this time included Dr. Richard Dewey of Kankakee, Ill., in 1891, and Dr. Edward Brush of Baltimore in 1895.

The hostility of the ANA to the psychiatrists' association came to a head in 1894, when the invited speaker to the meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the association was Dr. Mitchell. He lambasted asylums as nontherapeutic and their staffs as nonscientific in their practice. The psychiatrists responded only weakly to Mitchell's diatribe.

In 1896 the psychiatrists invited Dr. Bernard Sachs, a New York neurologist, to address their annual meeting, and he did so in a placating tone. As relations between the two organizations improved, more psychiatrists joined the ANA. Dr. Adolf Meyer joined in 1899 and was elected president in 1922. In 1905 he and Dr. William White were named advisory consultants to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Among the 12 APA presidents who were members of the ANA were Dr. Edward Cowles (APA president 1894-95) and Dr. Edward Strecker (APA president 1943-44).

Dr. Smith Ely Jeliffe had his feet firmly planted in both camps, as a member of both the psychiatric association and the ANA. He joined the ANA in 1900 and soon became editor of the ANA journal, a post he held for almost 40 years.

Likewise, a number of prominent neurologists were also psychiatric association members, including professors of neurology at medical schools in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Omaha, and Minneapolis.

Neurology and psychiatry have continued to move closer, sharing a common certifying board, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. The strong alliance of the two specialties will continue to best serve both patients and practitioners. ▪

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