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Sat Feb 25, 2012, 09:28 PM

 

Anyone know why psychiatrists are called shrinks?

where did the nickname originate?

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Reply Anyone know why psychiatrists are called shrinks? (Original post)
mdmc Feb 2012 OP
drm604 Feb 2012 #1
Neoma Feb 2012 #2
aikoaiko Feb 2012 #3
libodem Feb 2012 #4

Response to mdmc (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 10:05 PM

1. Psychiatrists are sometime called headshrinkers.

"Shrink" is simply a shortening of that.

"Headshrinker" of course comes from head hunters who shrank heads.

I don't know how "headshrinker" came to be a slang term for psychiatrists, but obviously it relates to the fact that they work with peoples' minds, which physically reside in their heads.

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Response to drm604 (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 02:32 AM

2. From what I found on the google:

" The idea is that a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst messes or screws with your head."

I believe it's an insult originally.

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Response to mdmc (Original post)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 10:49 AM

3. OED

FWIW:

Headshrinker
head-shrinker n. (a) a head-hunter who preserves and shrinks human heads; (b) slang (orig. U.S.), a psychiatrist.
1926 G. M. Dyott On Trail of Unknown xii. 173 (heading) The head shrinkers.
1950 Time 27 Nov. 19 Anyone who had predicted that he would end up as the rootin'-tootin' idol of U.S. children would have been led instantly off to a headshrinker.
1957 A. Maney in G. Oppenheimer Passionate Playgoer (1958) 381 Marcus Heiman, head of the United Booking Office, turned the play over to his psychiatrist. That headshrinker said a play glorifying a drunkard conflicted with public interest.
1958 Spectator 22 Aug. 241/2 The head-shrinkers would doubtless say it is the universal human search for a father-figure that is behind it.
1959 T. B. Morris Death among Orchids xiii. 121 There are still cannibals.‥ But the worst of them are now‥the head-shrinkers.
1968 New Scientist 8 Feb. 289/1 Dr. Louis West‥may eventually be taking the caviare out of headshrinkers' mouths with his development of the robot psychiatrist.
1970 I. Reed in A. Chapman New Black Voices (1972) 516 A vocabulary that calls things by their names: ‘headshrinker’ and ‘egghead’.


Shrink
A psychiatrist. Cf. head-shrinker n. (b) at head n.1 Compounds 2b. slang (orig. U.S.).
1966 T. Pynchon Crying of Lot 49 i. 16 It was Dr Hilarius, her shrink or psychotherapist.
1969 C. Young Todd Dossier 78 What you've written may prove helpful. That's what the man said, the shrink.
1973 Nation Rev. (Melbourne) 31 Aug.–6 Sept. 1434/1 A number of value judgments were offered‥by a couple of the shrinks.
1978 M. Walker Infiltrator iii. 39 He could have gone to a pricey shrink who would have certified him too delicate for the Army.
1980 Times Lit. Suppl. 3 Oct. 117/2 It does not take a shrink to see that a man so humanly flawed and artistically inept has got to be a loser.

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Response to mdmc (Original post)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 05:34 PM

4. I'll take a shot at it

Mental illness is sometimes caricatured as a bunch of multiple personalities running the shop in your head.

The cure for that is to shrink the living space and crowd out a few of the extra beings taking up residency.

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