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Posted by ESC on March 28, 2001

In Reply to: Shrinking Heads posted by Bruce Kahl on March 27, 2001

: : Where did both, "shrink," referring to a psycol/chiatrist, and, "shrinking heads," the act of giving therapy, originate?

: The medical field of psychiatry started to bloom in the late 19th and early 20th century along with a communications revolution which included the telephone, telegraph and the film industry.
: Adventurers started travelling all over the world and some of these people recorded the medical curiosities of other cultures, one of which was the report of "witch doctors" who would take human skull remains and chemically shrink them in size in a semi-religious ceremony.
: The media then took these images of shrunken heads and merged them into the new-fangled field of psychiatry and the resultant word of "shrink" was applied to any M.D. who practiced the specialty of psychiatry.

SHRINK - "n a psychiatrist. Slang, originally US. From 'head-shrinker,' a psychiatrist; a joky coinage first recorded in 1950." From "20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years" by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, New York, 1999).