Name Change A Game Changer?

Today, we planted a tree with an interesting name: Bloodgood Japanese Maple. On the tag, the generic name reads “Arce Japones Sangre Buena.” At first I thought that was a misprint because right below it is another name: Acer palmatum ‘bloodgood.’ I remember thinking, shouldn’t the generic name read “Acer Japones Sangre Buena?”


But I googled it and it looks like “arce” is not just “acer” mispelled.

I wish it were that easy to settle the issue of which name to substitute for my subspecialty “Psychosomatic Medicine.” I just discovered today that the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (APM) is not the only major organization having an identity crisis about its name. The American Psychosomatic Society (APS) spent several years struggling with this and recently voted on an alternative name for its own organization, coming up with some likely candidates:

  • American Biobehavioral Society
  • Association for Biopsychosocial Medicine
  • Society for Psychobiology & Medicine

They didn’t like those because they wanted the same anchor terms for all three options and voted on these:

  • Association for Biobehavioral Medicine (ABM)
  • Association for Biopsychosocial Medicine (ABM)
  • Association for Psychobiology & Medicine (APBM)

The voters status was stratified, similar to what is now happening with the APM survey regarding the name for the subspecialty, Psychosomatic Medicine. I guess APM doesn’t have an identity crisis about its own name.

493 members voted (53% of eligible members):

  • Voting by Membership Type: Regular 304 (58% of Regular)
  • Emeritus 41 (34% of Emeritus)
  • Associate 143 (53% of Associate)
  • Corresponding 5 (50% of Corresponding)

They were stratified by degree as well:

  • MD 88 (42% of MDs)
  • PhD 263 (63% of PhDs)
  • MD, PhD 21 (38% of MD, PhDs)
  • Other degrees 121 (51% “other”)

U.S. and non-U.S. members were evenly divided, virtually 50-50. Anyway, they decided to vote on whether to change to Association for Biopsychosocial Medicine (ABM) vs keeping the old name, American Psychosomatic Society (APS).

They chose to keep the old name. I wonder, did the APM get the idea about a name change from the APS? And of course that drives the next question. Can the APM learn anything from the APS about how to deal with their own identity crisis? I’ve already mentioned what Don R. Lipsitt has to say about this issue. And the then President of the APS, Susan Lutgendorf, PhD, had this to say in 2013 when the organization decided to stick with the old name:

Our first major order of business following the 2013 Miami meeting was to complete the hotly debated identity/name change voting process. First the membership identified “Association for Biopsychosocial Medicine” as the favored alternative name. The vote in June 2013 on adopting this option vs. retaining American Psychosomatic Society favored retaining the name of American Psychosomatic Society. Following the vote, Council determined that a greater emphasis on dissemination regarding the goal and mission of the Society would help spread the work of the Society. To this end we have undertaken several initiatives, including formulating several changes to update the website as our public “face” to make it more user friendly and to more easily enable viewers to learn basic information about the Society.

The APS settled the issue by focusing on what else it could do to market its goal and mission. Rather than changing its name, it stuck with the name everybody knows. Rats, I voted to change our own name. How about Encephalopsychosociopoliticoanacliticoepigenetic Medicine? The poll so far as of today at 2:15 PM:

PM Name Change Poll May 15 2016 at 1415