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Beside oneself

Posted by ESC on February 26, 2000

In Reply to: Beside oneself posted by Ginny on February 25, 2000

: What does it mean to be beside oneself. I have heard the expression many times in life but never understood it.

"Beside himself. Why do we describe a distraught person as being 'beside himself'? Because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was 'beside himself.' This same thought is to be found in 'out of his mind'; and in 'estasy' too. 'Ecstasy' is from the Greek and literally means 'to stand out of.'" From "Dictionary of Word Origins" by Jordan Almond (Carol Publishing Group, Secaucus, N.J., 1998)