Archiver > ANDERSONVILLE > 2003-10 > 1067482015

From: "Carolyn Flint" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 18:47:11 -0800
In-Reply-To: <>

M Also, I found some who had died from DEBILITAS! What is that? I tried to
look it up and the sites I saw where all in German.

Modern medical names tend to be descriptive of how the affliction is
operating in the body - such as auto immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Prior to the 19th century, doctors didn't have lab tests, x-rays and
autopsies to tell them what was really going on so the terms tended to
describe symptoms they could observe or of which the patient complained.
These are not precise diagnoses in the modern sense.

Debility - Abnormal bodily weakness or feebleness; decay of strength. This
was a term descriptive of a patient's condition and of no help in making a
diagnosis. Lack of movement or staying in bed. Synonym: asthenia.

De*bil"i*ty (?), n. [L. debilitas, fr. debilis weak, prob. fr. de- + habilis
able: cf. F. débilité. See Able, a.] The state of being weak; weakness;
feebleness; languor.

The inconveniences of too strong a perspiration, which are debility,
faintness, and sometimes sudden death. Arbuthnot.
Syn. -- Debility, Infirmity, Imbecility. An infirmity belongs, for the most
part, to particular members, and is often temporary, as of the eyes, etc.
Debility is more general, and while it lasts impairs the ordinary functions
of nature. Imbecility attaches to the whole frame, and renders it more or
less powerless. Debility may be constitutional or may be the result or
superinduced causes; Imbecility is always constitutional; infirmity is
accidental, and results from sickness or a decay of the frame. These words,
in their figurative uses, have the same distinctions; we speak of infirmity
of will, debility of body, and an Imbecility which affects the whole man;
but Imbecility is often used with specific reference to feebleness of mind.

Debilitas was a former medical term for weakened and enfeebled condition.

Nineteenth century doctors often used the Latin root or equivalent of an
English word.

-----Original Message-----
From: Becky Jo Barben [mailto:]
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2003 3:58 PM
Subject: Rank & Ailment

In viewing the Andersonville Prisoners (thank you for sending me the
link) under "Rank" on some of them, it said, MUSICIAN, FARRIER or
TEAMSTER. Why is that?


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