New vocabulary term: Spes phthisica

Came across that term in a novel I am reading, The Fox in the Attic. A depressing term, I suppose: this from Merriam-Webster: spes phthis·i·ca a state of euphoria occurring in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis

Many people believed that you had to have TB (or consumption, if you want to sound old fashioned) in order to be creative. More on it and John Keats, HERE. It’s actually a great article.

“Spes phthisica, which sought to make sense of the senseless and give purpose to purposeless suffering and death, came to be viewed as a prerequisite for creative genius.

French author Alexandre Dumas fils wrote, ‘It was the fashion to suffer from the lungs; everybody was consumptive, poets especially; it was good form to spit blood after any emotion that was at all sensational, and to die before reaching the age of thirty.’ Dumas’ colleague, the poet Théophile Gautier, wrote, ‘…I could not have accepted as a lyrical poet anyone weighing more than ninety-nine pounds.’ A subsequent alleged decline in the arts was even blamed on decline in tuberculosis incidence.

But maybe that’s a creaky example of people finding patterns that don’t exist, because they don’t have a sense of control…

“It turns out that the less control a person feels, the more likely they are to see patterns or make connections that don’t exist.”

About Meakin Armstrong

Fiction writer, fiction editor, journalist, and copywriter.
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2 Responses to New vocabulary term: Spes phthisica

  1. Meakin Armstrong says:

    I wasn’t. Was referring to the belief that people become more creative when they are about to die of TB (spes phthisica). There a link under that quote you were asking about to

    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/10/02/mind-control-pattern.html

    I’m not blown away by that study, actually. There has long been a term for it, Texas Sharpshooter effect:

    http://www.skepdic.com/texas.html

  2. C. L. DeMedeiros says:

    said what?
    “It turns out that the less control a person feels, the more likely they are to see patterns or make connections that don’t exist.”
    is this about religion?
    or anything Almighty?

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