NEURASTHENIA (literally, nerve weakness)


An obsolescent term for a neurotic condition marked by severe fatigue, bodily weakness, poor concentration, feelings of inadequacy, and mental and physical listlessness. Other complaints include headaches, insomnia, muscular pains, and poor appetite.The term originated with the American psychiatrist George Miller Beard (1839-83) in 1869. He believed the symptoms were due to weakness or exhaustion of the nervous system produced primarily by overwork, while others thought they were caused by excessive masturbation. Today the condition is attributed to psychological factors such as emotional conflicts, prolonged anxiety or tension, sexual dissatisfactions, frustration, and boredom. The adjective neurasthenic is still used occasionally to characterize a general neurotic fatigability, but the American Psychiatric Association does not include neurasthenia in its latest classification of disorders (1952). The tendency is to drop the term and assign some of the symptoms to anxiety reactions, others to conversion reaction, and the greater part to psychophysiologic disorders. Some authors, supported by factor-analytic studies (Guilford, 1959), believe the symptoms constitute a separate neurotic pattern which they term asthenic reaction. See ASTHENIC REACTION, HYPOCHONDRIASIS, MITCHELL, JANET.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "NEURASTHENIA (literally, nerve weakness)," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed March 22, 2023).


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