Do You Have Americanitis?

NYC_subway_riders_with_their_newspapersThe suffix “-itis,” pronounced “AYE-tus,” is used in medicine for a physical condition where a part of your body is inflamed, with the area swollen (grown in size), red, hot, and painful. It’s used in the names of many common medical conditions. Arthritis, for example, is an inflammation of the joints (where two bones are connected, usually where you bend), and tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon, the tissue or material in the body that connects muscles to bones.

Sometimes, outside of medicine, we use the suffix “-itis” to refer to a made-up or fake medical condition, usually to be funny. Seniors — students in the final year of high school or college — might have “senioritis,” a condition where students don’t study very hard, their attention wanders (don’t stay on the main subject), and they wait impatiently for the school year to end.

In the late 1880’s, doctors coined a new term (gave a new name) for a set of common symptoms (signs or indications of illness) they noticed in patients. This condition was called “Americanitis.” It’s not clear who first used the term – some say a visiting doctor from England and others say one from Germany – but it became widely used (used by many people) to describe the negative effects of an American way of life.

People noticed that Americans worked long hours and too hard, they hurried or rushed from place to place, and they worried too much. This, they believed, weakened Americans’ nerves, the fibers or long pieces of tissue in the body that send messages from the brain to different parts of the body and back. This weakening, it was thought, resulted in many common medical conditions, including high blood pressure (amount of force used to pump or move blood through the body), heart attacks, stomach problems, and nervous disorders (psychological problems, such as anxiety (worrying too much)), and many more.

As you can tell, Americanitis was a very ill-defined (vague; not having a clear description) condition. If you were working long hours at work and couldn’t sleep, you may have been diagnosed with (said to have the medical condition) Americanitis. If you were taking care of a household (members in a home/family) and had sore muscles and stomach pains, you might have had Americanitis. Americanistis was a frequent diagnosis and many treatments (what can be done to make an ill person better), including electric shock treatment (applying electricity to parts of the body), were prescribed (recommended by doctors).

It’s not surprising that many people who were told or who suspected (believed) that they suffered from Americanitis turned to (looked to for a solution) medicines. In those days, patent medicines (common medications made by a person or a company that do not require a doctor’s prescription) were very popular, and medications were not regulated (need to follow laws) in the way they are now. Pills and tonics (old-fashioned term for liquid medicine) were sold and advertised to cure (fix a medical condition; eliminate an illness) you of Americanitis. If you look at the advertisements, Americanitis was anything and everything you can imagine, and so were the cures.

Within 50 years, doctors stopped taking the idea of Americanitis seriously. Today, the term Americanitis is no longer used in medical science, but many might say that the American lifestyle is still bad for your health.

Do you suffer from Americanitis, or at least the behaviors that people associate with it, such as working too hard, hurrying all the time, and worrying too much? Would you like to buy my cure for that? Only a little electric shock is necessary.

– Lucy

Photo Credit:  Crowded rush-hour New York City train from Wikipedia

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11 Responses to Do You Have Americanitis?

  1. Dan says:

    Hi Lucy,

    So many terms that made me smile through the article.

    And what about “There is nothing equal to electricity to clear up the mind” yeah! right!

    Elixir is another word that makes me laugh.

    Thank you Lucy

  2. emiliano says:

    No dear Lucy, I haven´t americanitis but it is possible I have another kind of neuras
    like spending hours surfing by the web, or being at home for days and days without
    putting a foot on the street.

    Now we have 37 ºC out home and it is spring, so what will be the temperature in july?
    Some time when friends told me it is necessary for me, or for Cuca, to go out home
    more frequently I ask myself why for?
    Having not a reply I remain surfing a little more by the web looking what is happening
    out in the world and of course reading the new post in ESL´s blogs, usually it is sure
    I´ll find Dan, that for sure, but also Peter, Tania, Aecio and jus a few more?
    By the way, where is Betty, sorry, Lili ? Where are you dear friend?

    How do you feel now Lucy just living your new age year? Sure you feel O.K. as you
    are still very young.


  3. emiliano says:


    And I have not been there, but I love this country, maybe because i’ve Known people of Ireland and
    they look very similar to us Hispanics, Hispanic Especially northwest of the peninsula.

    With only twenty I met some Irish friends in Benidorm, With Which I corresponded for years.

    I’ve taken two teachers of Inglés born in Ireland and They Were one of the nicest I ever had, one of my
    best friends is American of Irish origin and even another friend I met in Torrevieja, now deceased, was of the same origin.

    My references of a trip to Ireland are excellent.
    Two of my daughters Have been there as well as other partners of the Bank Where I worked for years, and like, go to Ireland
    without problems Because You will always find a helping hand That will help you if you Have Problems, you Indicate the I adeucuado
    way and even deviará of their way to show you.

    On my last trip to Amsterdam, I have the chance to ask an Irish lady About getting right to the Central Estanción. I did not know
    she was born in Ireland, i took it for a Dutch woman, but my surprise was When deviating from her path along a stretch of ours came
    to tell us and lead us by the shortest route adequate for our purposes.

    Chatting with her, She Told me it was Irish, was married to a Dutch, Amsterdam but she loved and missed her homeland traveled
    She Could Whenever there.

    She was the kindness personified, For nearly ten minutes We walked indicating the perfect place to Achieve our task shortcut .
    My partner was astonished Cesar following us without understanding a single word as I doesn’t speak a word of Inglés.
    Afterwar’ve Told me it was just incredible esta what kind woman has made for showing us a short way to get our purpose.

    I have forgotten her name but not what we Told withher, incredible good Inglés, and how her attitude was friendly to us.

    Next year, if I can and follow my desire to travel, I want to go to this country and to travel in the form “Bed and Breakfast” as I think
    it is the best way to Establish Contact With Their people.

    While I will study trips, Makes plans and dream time to take the plane and landed in Dublin.
    Thanks to all of you, Irish, to whom over the years I have been knowing and learning from them.

    (from my own blog just to share with you)


  4. NerminEminova says:

    Eventually I found the name of my illness – Americanitis. Thank you for that :).

  5. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    I have brazilianitis.Laugh.

  6. HILARIO says:

    There is no doubt people that could be profiled as equivalent to americanities exist everywhere around us. I think it can be related to any guy in form of a psychotic mindset towards work and success. The “patients” can pass almost unnoticed inside of an “extreme competitive” collective behavior like most “urbanitas” American citizens conduct themselves. Perceptions matter very much indeed, and what looks like it is, it happen to be like it looks. They, the “patients”, suffer this cultural crossing when they exchange scenario in global village.

    Probably there must be an extra portion in the U.S. because its pioneer stigma and to pursuit the so called American dream. This somehow ferocious race for dream life leaves like broken toys in sidewalks and on elevator platforms even. A good struck and all the financial architecture around you, like life insurance compensation, stock options they should not worry you at all. If the punch is serious enough the man of the scythe will come and then you don’t have to pay any more taxes. You would be the talk if you do not pay your last bill.

    My father, refer to the divorce between use and abuse, and as a Chemist-Pharmaceutical and old school drug maker used to say that medicines kill people the colateral way they like and physicians help a lot.
    Maybe a futuristic scenario could be that prescriptions were being made on doctor`s requests but inside hospital based on personal prescription doses. This could lead a lot of research on undesirable effects and group reactions. Maybe the conspiracy between pharmaceuticals and doctors would not longer had any sense. So cheap, so simple.

  7. Dan says:

    Hey Lucy.

    What I find fascinating about this post, is that while reading it, I can’t help but thinking that the majority of the population were crazy back then.
    Unfortunately/sadly, there are still many people today using everything but the scientific based medicine. Just look at those nuts that do not want their children to be vaccinated.
    You know something about that in CA after a measles outbreak. In 2015!

    I mean, listening to Jeff talking about The Massie Trial on the last EC, I had the same feeling. I was like “wow they were all crazy back then”

    Who knows how many things we do not see today that will be considered crazy in 100 years from now.

    Not that we do not see a few now, we are not totally blind or stupid.

    Just the first thing that comes to mind is preachers asking for money to buy private jets (this was on the news recently)
    or that stupid and worthless controversy about selling cakes and flowers to same sex couples.

    There are thousands of examples out there of stupidity. I believe we should put ourselves into the shoes of an hypothetical reader of the future and looking back at us with those eyes/mind.
    Not always easy though.


  8. Dan says:

    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to share with you that as I was brushing my cat I had for an instant a feeling
    that is probably the one little girls feel like when they brush the hair of their dolls.

    Do you think that is something to be worried to? I am a man of 45.

    Hey Emi, do you brush Gatufo?

    And where is Tania with her cluster bomb comments?

    Thanks bye

  9. pooyan says:

    Always useful and helpful.
    Thank you all of your team.

  10. Dan says:

    Hi, me again.

    I was thinking that depends on what we mean about Americanitis.

    If we mean things such as: freedom of speech, equality, separation btween state and church and so on.

    Yes I have Americanitis and I do not wish to get a cure for that.


  11. emiliano says:

    Dan, yes of course I brush him and he is happy when I do that.
    Everything I could do with gatufo he likes it, he needs my attention always
    and if I go to the kitchen and talk with Isabel he goes to the kitchen too and
    started to miaauuu very angry once and again, he wanst all my attention
    and care to him.
    The only person he allowed to be cared by me is Cuca but he goes, jumps
    and stay himself in the middle of us. He use to do that just since he was
    here being very little, Now at night he jumps and put himself between us
    in the middle of the bed.
    When I have been in Netherland he didn´t do that because it was Isabel
    who was in the bed with Cuca instead of emiliano, and Gatufo doesn´t
    like that.
    The following day I was out in the trip, the cat left a “caca” and organic
    rest in the middle of the saloon as a silence protest, after that he went
    out of sight for one or two days, poor Gatufo, he doesn´t like emiliano´s

    It could be incredible, but cats are so.

    Tania, welcome again to you site, we miss you.
    Betty, or Lili, where are you?


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