Skip to main content

Stress Again

  • Charles A. Mercier

Dr. R. S. Stewart's statement, in his paper on “Wages, Lunacy, and Crime,” that he used the term “stress” in the ordinary sense of the term did not escape my attention, and naturally led me to suppose, until I read the subsequent part of his paper, that he meant to use the term in the sense in which it was introduced into psychiatry; and it was his departure from this “ordinary” sense which led me to make my expostulation. I desire to deprecate any notion in the mind of Dr. Stewart, or of anyone else, that I am pursuing this subject from any motive except that of clarifying our terminology from ambiguity and uncertainty. For one of my books I have chosen, as a motto, Huxley's confession: “The whole of my life has been spent in trying to give my proper attention to things, and to be accurate, and I have not succeeded as well as I could wish”; and it is in the continued pursuit of these objects that I venture to resume the subject. No alienist of candid mind will deny that our branch of medical knowledge and art still lags behind other branches; and, while much of this retardation is due to the greater inherent difficulty of the subject, and to other causes, some of it is unquestionably due to looseness of terminology and to that inaccuracy of thought which is indicated by inaccuracy of expression. It is the appreciation of this lack of precision which has prompted me to suggest the abandonment of the terms “mania” and “melancholia,” which no rigour of definition can ever now restrict within useful bounds; and with the same motive I return to the topic of “stress” as a text for the exhortation, not of Dr. Stewart alone, but of all of us, to consider with care what meaning the terms we use will convey to our hearers and readers.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 3 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 10 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th February 2018 - 28th May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Stress Again

  • Charles A. Mercier
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *