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chicadelplaya's avatar

Where does the word 'Shrink' come from?

Asked by chicadelplaya (2213points) October 27th, 2008

As in a psychiatrist or psychologist. My friend and I were stumped on this one the other day.

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3 Answers

shrubbery's avatar

It used to be thought that going to a Psychiatrist to tell them everything was a bad thing and it would shrink your brain. I think.

edit :: I think where I heard this was in Rebel Without A Cause, if you’re interested. I think the character Plato says something about not wanting to go to a head shrinker.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

According to the OED:

It comes from or is related to the word “head-shrinker” and is slang of U.S. origin.

It was first seen in print in 1966. in Crying of Lot 49 i. 16 by T. PYNCHON, “It was Dr Hilarius, her shrink or psychotherapist.”

wundayatta's avatar

Headshrinker, eh? Like one of those Amazonian tribes? Or is it Peruvian? Or both? You sit in the office or lie on the couch, and the shrink takes your head off, removes the bones, pickles the brain, and then puts it back on you, like one of those weird halloween characters.

Except mostly they don’t do it that way any more. They’ve gotten either more crude or more subtle, depending on how you look at it. Now they mostly prescribe medicines, after taking a medical history. No more talk therapy. Mostly. There are exceptions of course.

Then, there’s the suggestion that your head is too big in some way. This extraness needs to be shrunk so you can be normal. A normal sized head? I dunno. Seems to me that having a swollen head is preferable to having the shrink take the nutcracker to your skull. (I.e, electroshock therapy). Though, nowadays, there’s a new alternative that does something with magnets and magnetic fields. I’m not sure, but maybe they use an MRI to do it. They seem to be getting very good results.

Well, anything that works, I say. Give me some popcorn, and have at it! It can’t get any worse.

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