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I often get asked what ‘nervous breakdown’ means, as if it was a technical term defined by psychology.

In fact, it’s really just an everyday term used to describe when someone can’t carry on because of psychological problems, although it turns out to have quite technological origin, as this brief article from the American Journal of Psychiatry describes.

The Cambridge academic German Berrios (personal communication) informed me that “breakdown” is a 19th century construction, initially used to refer to breakages and fractures in machinery and leading to the need for “breakdown gangs” (i.e., teams of navvies whose job involved addressing the mechanical disruptions to the functioning of railways). Metaphorical uses of the term followed, particularly in reference to failure in personal intentions and plans.

Read in Full:  http://mindhacks.com/2010/10/20/the-origin-of-the-nervous-breakdown/



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