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About polymaths


In today’s era of exquisite confusion — political, economic and otherwise — the neurotic would be a welcome guest, nervous company for nervous days, always ready to provide doses of that most potent vaccine against gloominess: wisecracking, urbane gloominess.


Some of the reasons that “neurotic” has fallen out of colloquial usage are obvious. Freudian analysis lost its hold on the common consciousness, as well as in psychiatry, and some of Freud’s language lost its power. And scientists working to define mental disorders began to slice neurosis into ever finer pieces, like panic disorder, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder — all evocative terms that percolated up into common usage, not to mention into online user groups, rock lyrics and TV shows. In 1994, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, psychiatry’s encyclopaedia of mental disorders, officially dropped the word neurosis from the book. “The DSM is the lingua franca of psychiatry, and given what we know today the term feels old-fashioned and quaint,” said Dr. Michael First, a former editor of the manual. “With the general decline of value of Freud in our society, it is ultimately anachronistic.”


Era – (eer-uh) (n)
Exquisite – (ek-skwiz-it) (adj)
Neurotic – (nyoo-rot-ik) (n)
Company – (kuhm-puh-nee) (n)
Potent – (poht-nt) (adj)
Gloominess – (gloo-mee-ness) (n)
Wisecracking – (wahyz-krak-ing) (adj)
Urbane – (ur-beyn) (adj)
Colloquial – (kuh-loh-kwee-uhl) (adj)
Freudian – (froi-dee-uhn) (adj)
Hold – (hohld) (n)
Psychiatry – (sahy-kahy-uh-tree) (n)
Slice – (slahys) (v)
Finer – (fahy-ner) (adj)
Evocative (ih-vok-uh-tiv) (adj)
Percolated – (pur-kuh-leyt-ed) (v)
Lingua franca – (ling-gwuh  frang-kuh) (n)
Quaint – (kweynt) (adj)
Decline – (dih-klahyn) (n) Anachronistic – (uh-nak-ruh-nis-tik) (adj)

a.  cut into pieces
b.  a person, people or thing regarded as pleasant (or unpleasant) to be with
c.  A gradual and continuous loss of strength, numbers, quality, or value
d.  relating to or influenced by Sigmund Freud and his methods of psychoanalysis, especially with reference to the importance of unconscious desires
e.  spread gradually through an area or group of people
f.   intensely felt
g.  the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behaviour
h.  sadness, dejection or melancholy
i.   Bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind
j.   used in ordinary or familiar conversation; not formal or literary
k.  having great power, influence, or effect
l.   attractively unusual or old-fashioned
m. a witty remark or joke
n.  a long and distinct period of history
o.  an act or manner of grasping something; a grip
p.  having the polish and suavity regarded as characteristic of sophisticated social life in major cities
q.  smaller, more delicate
r.   belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned
s.   a person who is abnormally sensitive, obsessive, or anxious

t.   a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.


1. n 2. f 3. s 4. b 5. k
6. h 7. m 8. p 9. j 10. d
11. o 12. g 13. a 14. q 15. i
11. e 12. t 13. l 14. c 15. r