Monday, January 10, 2005

One Interesting Tidbit

As some of you already knew that I read stuff on the subway train everyday to kill the time while I get to work or home. I am almost done with "Only in New York" Q&A Book about New York's Oddest Mysteries.

There is one Q&A that I thought is interesting for everyone else.

Q. A doctor once identified an affliction he called "Newyorkitis." What was it?

Dr. John H. Girdner listed the telltale symptons: "haste, rudeness, restlessness, arrogance, contemptuousness, excitability, anxiety, pursuit of novelty and of grandeur, pretensions of omniscience, and therefore prescience, which of course undermines any pleasure taken in novelty." His book, Newyorkitis, was published in New York in 1901. Girdner studied medicine at New York University. He was a close friend of William Jennings Bryan and President Grover Cleveland, according to his first cousin, James Madison Girdner, who set down a family history in 1911. The cousin wrote that John Girdner was "a profilic writer on medical and social subjects," and more important, the author of a "tongue-in-cheek book, 'Newyorkitis', satirizing the provincialism of life in New York."

Girdner was not the first to note the debilitating effects of city living. In 1869, a New York neurologist, Dr. George M. Beard, described a psychological condition he called "neuraesthenia," which resulted in fatigue, anxiety, lassitude, irritability, hypochondria, "brain collapse" and other forms of "elementary insanity."

In 1881, he published American Nervousness, Its Causes and Consequences and named the five elements of modern culture that were enfeebling the country's urban elite: "steam power; the periodical press, the telegraph, the sciences and the mental activity of women." Beard wrote: "When civilization, plus these five factors, invades any nation, it must carry nervousness and nervous diseases with it."

Ain't this very interesting? I think I have it.


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