Welcome to the first post of 2018! Get ready for a year of awesome posts!
Some believe that these doctors are just make you sit on a couch and spill out your problems without really making much of a difference in your health, but have you ever thought about their less than dignified nickname? The word "shrink" doesn't seem to have any direct relation to psychiatrists or their jobs, and it leaves just a twinge of disrespect for those with the occupation. For today's post, I set out to find whether or not calling these doctors "shrinks" is meant to be slightly impolite and where the name itself comes from.
Firstly, I think that most people misunderstand how hard a psychiatrist's job is. They have to comprehend the deepest parts of the human brain and listen to people talk about themselves for an hour. Then they have to take what their patients talk about and associate that information with what's going on in their brain, and diagnose disorders based off of that. After all that, they have to prescribe proper medication for their patients. So, honestly, their job is not as easy as it looks. It might even be kind of fascinating- they get to hear about what people dream about in their sleep and interpret fears or other information from the dreams....that's pretty cool if you ask me!
So why exactly should anyone think mental health professionals are weird? This is probably because they deal with people who have issues and to be extremely vague, their patients are "crazy," at least, that's what most people tend to believe. But that doesn't make psychiatrists crazy, that makes them good people who care about the well-being of their community! And that leads me to the point of this post- where their faintly rude moniker, "shrink," comes from.
From some research, I found that the term "shrink" was coined by Thomas Pynchon in his 1966 novel The Crying of Lot 49, where he describes the process of head shrinking which was supposed to be a primitive tribal practice. The practice developed, and was turned into a sort of metaphor for treating depression. In the early days of psychotherapy, one of the biggest and most severe symptoms of depression was thought to be a dull, aching sensation in your head. This was supposed to create the illusion that your brain was swollen and large, and to make it better, you would see a "headshrinker," now known as psychiatrists. The name was shortened to "shrink" over the years.
So when you think about it, the term "shrink" is actually just a shortened form of the less fancy name for a psychiatrist! Technically, it isn't that disrespectful at all, and it really just refers to what the job entailed. But....with some more scouring, I found other explanations:
Where we get the names for ordinary objects, or even ourselves, can be really captivating. The common surname "Smith" derives from "blacksmith." If that's your surname, then someone in your ancestry was likely a blacksmith. "Turner," another last name, comes from a job where somebody operated a piece of machinery that spun or turned.
Hope you enjoyed today's post! Comment below what you thought!