Life tough today? Compare it with the Industrial Revolution


Being constantly overworked and tired may seem like a modern condition, but actually you might be suffering from a 19th-century malaise.

Doctors in the Victorian times diagnosed patients with ‘Neurasthenia’, which bears all the hallmarks of our hyper-connected age.

According to a new book, patients with the condition suffered from depression, a ‘lack of ambition’, insomnia and headaches.

Ha.  Lack of ambition, as a medical condition.  Does that mean that half the people on the dole are depressed?

Another term for Neurasthenia was ‘Americanitis’ because it was coined in the US at a time when the country was rapidly developing and employees were working longer hours than ever.

Despite the similarities in the symptoms, the treatments might make 21st-century workers pause for thought.

American men were sent to the countryside to ride horses, lasso cattle and do exercise until they rediscovered their vigour.

I’d love to have been sent to the countryside to make some animals lie down myself.

Women were given ‘six to eight weeks of best rest, sometimes even with bed pans so they never had to get up’, the book says.

They were spoonfed milk and soup and not even allowed to read as doctors massaged their muscles to stop them from going weak.

Oh that was probably dodgy even back then.

The term Neurasthenia was coined in 1869 by George Beard, a neurologist who saw it as a direct consequence of modern life.

Professor Schuster said: ‘This was a popular idea in the late 19th century – the time of Edison – and it was thought that we eat food, which is digested into energy, and our nervous systems transport the energy to our organs.

It was thought that we eat food, which is digested into energy, and our nervous systems transport the energy to our organs.  ‘And when our bodies ran low on this energy, it could cause all kinds of mental and physical health problems.’

The range of symptoms was broad, meaning that it became a ‘quality of life’ issue, Professor Schuster said.

However most doctors believed that the condition was the dark side of progress – the belief was that America had evolved so far beyond the rest of the world that the demands on its citizens was just too much.

We clearly have arrived at the age of Internetitis.

And if you’re reading this, you would probably be diagnosed with it, as well as lack of ambition.


–  Daily Mail

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