George Miller Beard

George Miller Beard

George Miller Beard

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George Miller Beard (May 8, 1839 – January 23, 1883) was a U.S. neurologist who popularized the term neurasthenia, starting around 1869.


Dr. Beard was born in Montville, Connecticut on May 8, 1839, to Rev. Spencer F. Beard, a Congregational minister, and Lucy A. Leonard. He graduated from Yale College during 1862, and received his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York during 1866. While still in medical school during the American Civil War, he served as an assistant surgeon in the West Gulf squadron of the United States Navy. After the war and graduation from medical school, he married Elizabeth Ann Alden, of Westville, Connecticut, on December 25, 1866.Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.

He is remembered best for having defined neurasthenia as a medical condition with symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, headache, impotence, neuralgia and depression, as a result of exhaustion of the central nervous system's energy reserves, which Beard attributed to civilization. Physicians who agreed with Beard associated neurasthenia with the stresses of urbanization and the increasingly competitive business environment. Stated simply, people were attempting to achieve more than their constitution could cope with. Typically this followed a short illness from which the patient was thought to have recovered.<ref...
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