The Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry grew out of the successes in providing modern psychiatric care to our soldiers in the field during World War II. Psychiatric leaders in the armed forces returned to find an inadequate system of civilian care and a need for professional leadership for the postwar clinical needs of the nation.
Under the leadership of Dr. William Menninger, GAP was formed, by the "young turks" in American psychiatry who were dissatisfied with the status of civilian psychiatry in 1947 and who were eager to advance psychiatry so it could truly take its proper place among the medical specialties.
Dr. William Menninger wrote:
"The organization of GAP was not a revolution. With the deepest sincerity, the founding group was seeking a way in which American psychiatry could give more forceful leadership, both medically and socially. Although the name may sound presumptuous, it was chosen because of the sense of great urgency that psychiatry should advance, and the belief that by hard work, and teamwork, we could help it do so. Those early years of GAP were marked by the feeling on the part of its membership that much needed to be done, and quickly."
Since its beginning the same sense of inquiry and urgency has continued GAP thriving. Although the topics have changed, GAP has played a critical role in changing the role of psychiatry in each decade. The strength of GAP has always been the spirit of the group and the commitment of the members to the collective effort. The members donate their time and effort in order to foster change and to work for a better mental health system, better treatment modalities and a better understanding of the human brain and mind.