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Stress Again

  • Charles A. Mercier
Extract

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.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Stress Again

  • Charles A. Mercier
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