The Northern California Psychiatric Society (NCPS) began in November 1953 and was formally named in May 1954, but the roots of the organization begin prior to World War II in 1939. At that time, the neurologists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists of the San Francisco Bay Area organized the Northern California Society of Neurology and Psychiatry. In its early days the society was dominated by the specialties of neurology and neurosurgery. When World War II started, the society discontinued until after the war.
When the society reconvened in 1946, there was a dramatic change in membership. The war had brought a large number of psychiatrists to the area and Stanford and the University of California San Francisco had started psychiatric training programs. The focus of meetings changed to an emphasis on psychiatry and the presidents of the society tended to be psychiatrists. At this time, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was encouraging psychiatric societies across the country to organize as District Branches of APA. By 1953, the formation of a district branch was eminent. When all the psychiatrists listed in the APA directory were contacted and queried about their interest in becoming a member of a district branch, the majority voted in favor. On November 18, 1953, Dr. Bernard Diamond met with an interim committee at the Officers Club in the Presidio to write a constitution. Dr. Bernard Diamond became the first president of NCPS, with Dr. William Bellamy as vice-president after the society’s application to the APA Assembly meeting was approved.
In its 60 years, NCPS can look back on many accomplishments, being at the forefront of mental health and medical matters in many areas. NCPS and its members have played a prominent role in APA and other medical organizations, demonstrating leadership and innovative thinking. In the past 60 years, psychiatry has gained recognition as a medical discipline in San Francisco and nationwide. Today, psychiatry speaks with an eloquent voice and is heard more than ever. It is a safe prediction that NCPS will continue to help shape psychiatry.