Whatever Happened to the Janus Head Logo for ACLP?

I got an email from Don R. Lipsitt, MD yesterday which reminded me of the Janus Head logo for the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (ACLP). It was changed to another sort of nondescript logo several years ago for reasons I didn’t understand.

Dr. Lipsitt is a luminary in C-L Psychiatry and recently published a definitive history of the field, Foundations of C-L Psychiatry: The Bumpy Road to Specialization (2016).

Go ahead; buy this book!

I posted a blog or two about Don and his book in a previous blog, The Practical C-L Psychiatrist. We’ve never formally met. A few years ago, he noticed that I had written about him and his book. I had sent him an email message about it at around the same time the APM was considering the name change for the organization, telling him that I had plugged his book and asking him what he thought of the name change. Incidentally, he thought both of our books made a great package, so I guess I’m allowed to plug mine, strangely titled Psychosomatic Medicine: An Introduction to C-L Psychiatry, editors James Amos and Robert Robinson (2010).

Go ahead; buy my book, too…

 Don expressed his opinion about the name change:

“I feel I have dealt with that at some length in my book. I still feel C-L is most fitting and that the Board made a big mistake naming it PM. Who were they? Any C-L psychiatrists among them? Any Psychosomaticists? Why are not the “complex medically ill” a special population? And why is APA now offering courses on “integrated” care (which is what C-L psychiatry has always been about? The notion that C-L was not declared a specialty because it was considered a skill of ALL psychiatrists (with minimal training), then how do geriatric or child psychiatry become specialties (that all psychiatrists also have training in)? Don’t get me started.”

He considered his book, in large part, a “polemic” against the name “Psychosomatic Medicine.”

Anyway, the ACLP was formerly the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (APM) until a couple of years ago when the organization responded robustly to the membership (of which I was one at the time) to abandon the term “Psychosomatic Medicine” and adopt what rank and file practitioners preferred—Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

It was a kind of rebranding and it was not the first time the academy had considered a name change. I and a lot of other C-L Psychiatrists cringed at the term “psychosomatic,” not so much because of the word itself in terms of its true denotation, but because of the unfortunate negative connotations it had acquired.

Another luminary of C-L Psychiatry, Dr. Thomas Hackett, MD, wrote about the term “psychosomatic” in the Massachusetts General Hospital: Handbook of general hospital psychiatry: edited by Hackett and Ned Cassem (1978):

“The term ‘psychosomatic service’ has had a variable history. The term generally leaves a bad taste in the mouths of physicians. It reminds them of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, when various psychosomatic schools espoused doctrines linking specific psychological conflicts or unique personality profiles with diseases designated as psychosomatic. Compounding this misunderstanding has been the term’s abuse by the general public, who regard anything psychosomatic as either imaginary or nervous in origin. As a consequence, most people believe that a psychosomatic disease is not to be taken seriously.”

Well, anyway, because of my anecdotage, I’ve strayed a little from my original story about the Janus head logo.

I already mentioned that the logo was abandoned in favor of something that looks like waves and could lead to seasickness. I inquired about the history of the use of the Janus head logo.

In addition to my curiosity about why the logo was changed, I also wondered why it was chosen in the first place and when. According to Don, it was part of the organization’s journal, Psychosomatics, in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. What was interesting is that it was already in use by the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry when the Psychosomatics editors started using it. However, a conflicting view was that it was not introduced to the cover until 2010. Hmmmm.

I saw the 2012 issue of the APM Newsletter had a pretty funny picture of Drs. Shuster and Rosenstein posing as Janus and the statement “Thank you, Janus. You served us well for over 50 years.” That might put the origin of the logo, at least, around 1962 although my understanding is that APM was started in 1953 (TN Wise, A Tale of Two Societies, Psychosomatics 1995).

Time to say “Hello, again, Janus?”

 It’s just my opinion, but because Janus is the ancient god of beginnings and transitions, gates, doorways, endings and time, and typically depicted as two-faced because he looks to the future and the past, I think the symbol is a better image for what C-L Psychiatry has been through over the years.

Anyone for re-rebranding and go retro back to the Janus head logo?

Back to the future, Dr. Janus Amos?

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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