Jul 142005
 

Psychiatric MDs and their psychoanalytical brethren probably don’t like it, but the term “shrink” has been around since the 1950s. Back then, the full label was “headshrinker.”

The mental health profession has always been a little mysterious to the layperson, and the inner workings of psychiatry and psychotherapy may be difficult to understand. Someone’s trying to mess with your head, right? Hence the tenuous connection between rituals like headshrinking and asking intimate questions about your mother.

Magazine cartoons from the 1950s and ’60s often used clich?s about cannibals and other primitive tribes. Let’s not forget the popularity of tiki culture at the time too. Indeed headshrinking was once all the rage. The term was shortened to “shrink” in the ’60s.

The word first appeared in print in March of 1966, when Thomas Pynchon used it in a piece titled “The Shrink Flips,” published in Cavalier magazine. This was an excerpt from his novel “The Crying of Lot 49” published the same year. In the book, the main character refers to her psychiatrist, Dr. Hilarius, as a shrink. And there we have it, ensconced in post-modern literature, much to the dismay of mental health workers everywhere.

with your head, right? Hence the tenuous connection between rituals like headshrinking and asking intimate questions about your mother.

 Posted by at 5:10 pm

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