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NOTE: There is hardly any reference in this neurasthenia article to the nervous system malfunction of chronic fatigue syndrome, the modern day equivalent classification, which is a very close and perhaps identical disease. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Drgao (talkcontribs) 14:11, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

You are right that this would merit a reference; however that CFS (or whatever that is officially called these days) is identical with what Freud described as neurasthenia is not something that should be asserted without a lot of evidence to support the claim, which I doubt you would find. Freud appears to describe a fundamentally psychic condition, whereas CFS has usually been postulated to have its origins in the autoimmune system. Superficially similar behavioral manifestations may therefore relate to fundamentally dissimilar underlying pathologies. Fbunny (talk) 14:21, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Article Content[edit]

This article isn't about Freud, it's about neurasthenia. Freud's suggestions are only that, suggestions, and they're no more valid than a number of other suggestions. Please bear in mind that while Freud revolutionised psychiatry in a number of ways, he was also wrong about many issues, especially when they related to female sexuality.

We can never prove what people with "neurasthenia" were actually suffering from, let alone whether it was a physiological or a psychiatric illness in each individual case, but please note that this Wikipedia article primarily defines it as a dysfunction of the central nervous system, not a psychiatric condition. Both physiological and psychiatric illnesses are possible, from the descriptions of patients at the time. The link with CFS/ME has been proposed by a number of medical historians, as for instance may be read about at, and is well-accepted by the medical community. I would suggest that it is therefore added to this article.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was imprisoned for a "rest cure" specifically for post-natal depression, not for neurasthenia. The two conditions may have been conflated at the time, however. It appears that "neurasthenia" suffered the same problems that "chronic fatigue syndrome" does today: it's not an accurate name for the condition, there's a great deal of argument about what it means, misdiagnosis is common, and it is frequently used as a dustbin diagnosis (for instance for WW1 soldiers who actually had PTSD, known at the time as "shell shock"). This reflects medical failings and prejudices and should never be used to justify belittling these medical conditions, which are extremely serious and can result in death.

I would suggest making it clear that neurasthenia was always a foggy diagnosis and that there were a number of medical conditions it could cover. Then list the conditions and write about why they were labelled as neurasthenia. The dustbin diagnosis element is pretty important, since here we're looking at a strong social phenomenon (the categorisation of disease and social uses of this categorisation) as well as a medical condition.

Charles Darwin, Henry James and Florence Nightingale were all diagnosed with neurasthenia, which would be a useful addition to this article. --Elettaria (talk) 11:08, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

So if, according to the article, Americanitis was thought by Freud to be due to excessive masturbation, can we conclude that Americans are wankers? -- (talk) 10:47, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

References Cleanup[edit]

I've gone through the page history and tried to match citations with the data that they support. In addition, I've cleaned up the existing citations and separated out the footnote as its own reference from the other references, which were all citations.

After doing so, there are references remaining which I think are no longer relevant to the article, as the information has either been removed, or it was never clear what information it was supporting. In order that nothing be lost in the reorganization, I'm moving them here. If anybody has access to them and finds that they do support information in the article, please feel free to move them back there (editing/removing this paragraph and the following list as necessary). Here are they are:

  • Schultz, Sydney Ellen; Schultz, Duane P. (2004). A history of modern psychology. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth. pp. 178–179. ISBN 0-534-55775-9. 
  • White, Charlotte; Kimble, Gregory A.; Wertheimer, Michael (1991). Portraits of pioneers in psychology. Washington: American Psychological Association. pp. 13–25. ISBN 0-8058-2197-X.  Unknown parameter |chapterauthor= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |chaptertitle= ignored (help)

If there are any concerns or questions about what I've done, please feel free to contact me here or on my talk page. —RobinHood70 (talkcontribs) 03:45, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

History of psychiatry[edit]

Just finishing a very interesting book on the history of psychiatry. It discussed the mental illnesses that have come and gone including hysteria as well as neurathenia. Arguing that mental illnesses are culturally based. Neurathenia is not being used to hid mood disorders but is being replaced by mood disorders similar to Dawkins memes.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:57, 13 May 2010 (UTC)


I don't see the assertion that Ehrenreich felt that neurasthenia was caused by Calvinist gloom as fully supported by the cite. it says that calvinist gloom causes mental and physical illness. it then says that invalidism and neurasthenia could be helped by the New Thought. Obviously she isn't saying that all cases of invalidism are/were caused by Calvinist gloom and also is not saying that all cases of invalidism are 'healed' by New Thought; likewise, it isn't clear that she felt that all cases of neurasthenia were caused by calvinist gloom or healed by New Thought.

I will remove this passage unless it can be backed up by a cite (preferably to the book). JustinReilly (talk) 03:50, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

I have added a quote from the book. Obviously Ehrenreich is restating James's point, she is not original in her claims about the New Thought, therefore it cannot be claimed that these are controversial claims. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:08, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
William James did not claim that the New Thought was something else than mumbo-jumbo, but for him it was a mumbo-jumbo which healed people of their infirmity. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:12, 7 August 2013 (UTC)