Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pathos II: suffering, disease, feeling, passion

Many good returns, fans of classical word origin, and welcome to my second discussion of the Greek root word pathos—suffering, disease, feeling, passion {-path, patho-, -pathy}. In this article I will be revealing GRE vocabulary that derives from this root word, and medical vocabulary as it pertains to different types of pathologies and methods of healing them. If you missed the first discussion of the Greek root word pathos, you may want to check it out before proceeding to see the SAT vocabulary words that I illuminated.  You may also want to check out this Greek root word path: "suffering, disease" podcast.

Let's begin first with GRE vocabulary. A sociopath is a person (the root "socio" comes from the Latin root socius: companion, partner, friend, comrade, colleague, ally, from which English derives the words social, asocial, society, etc.) who is etymologically "diseased as a companion," that is, is unable to function within the norms that societies demand, often manifesting in unwarranted antisocial behavior, causing she or he to act inappropriately, or beyond the pale. Another good GRE word is the word pathogen, a living disease-causing agent that enters the human body that "causes disease;" note that the root gigno, gignere, genui, genitum—to bring forth, give birth, produce {gen} is a truly prolific root that has given English vocabulary such additions as genetic, general, indigenous, degenerate, and gender, and 100s of other words, many of which are SAT and GRE favorites. Such pathogenic agents include bacteria, fungi, and viruses that penetrate the epidermis of the human body.

Medicine, over the millennia, has developed many ways in which to heal the human body. Let's discuss a few of these now.

Homeopathy: (via the Greek root word homoios—similar, like {homeo-, homœo-}): a way of treating a disease or ailment by etymologically giving a "similar disease" but in very small doses to the patient, in the hopes that the patient will develop a healthy immune response, and thereby be able to ward off the disease; for instance, I was once highly allergic to cats, and so, before I visited people's homes who had cats, I used to ingest drops that mimicked cat dander to allow my immune system to build up a homeopathic response. At times this appeared to be highly effective, and it is true that I am no longer allergic to cats!

Allopathy: (via the Greek root word allos—other, different {allo-}). Allopaths treat their patients by inducing a "different disease" into the patient's body in the hopes of warding off those symptoms that are afflicting them. This is the opposite of homeopathic treatments.

Osteopathy: (via the Greek root word osteon—bone {ost, osteo-}), etymologically "suffering via the bones," that is, osteopaths believe that imbalances in the patient's musculoskeletal system cause systemic pathologies; thus, an osteopath will make adjustments to the alignment of the bones in order to help alleviate the disorder.

Naturopathy: (via the Latin root word natura—character, power which gives birth to the world). The naturopath advises remedies for different types of disorders and diseases that are based on natural cures, such as diet supplements (such as vitamins), exercise, yoga, and massage to stimulate the body's natural healing response. For instance, I often take medicinal mushrooms if I feel a cold or flu coming on that have allowed me to live the past two winters without becoming sick, or even getting a cold. They certainly appear to work quite well by stimulating my immune system.

Kinesipathy: (via the Greek root word kinesis—motion). Also known as kinesiatrics (note the Greek root word iatros: healer, physicians...such as in psychiatrist). The treating of a disease or ailment by promoting movement of particular muscles to heal the ailment.

Neuropathy: (via the Greek root word neuron: sinew, tendon, nerve ). Please see my informative blog post on neuropathy and other English medical terms that come from the Greek root word neuron.

My last word for today is somewhat verboten to the medical profession, or at least greeted with sotto voce execrations, that is, the word idiopathy; idiopathic diagnoses are particularly worrisome to pathologists and physicians of all kinds, traditional and alternative, simply because an idiopathy is a disease with no known origin or apparent external cause; and yes, the Greek root word idios—own, personal, private, gave us the word idiot, or one who is etymologically "ignorant;" for a very interesting discussion on why this is so, check out .

My next post will finish medical vocabulary of the root word pathos.

Interested in word origin? In the power of Greek and Latin roots as the core of English vocabulary? In the root word pathos, and all the subsidiary root words discussed above, that is, what other English SAT and GRE words come from the roots socius, gigno, gignere, genui, genitum, homoios, osteon, and kinesis? All of the word roots mentioned in all articles are fully fleshed out in the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today; a Greek and Latin roots poster is also available, which beautifully illustrates not only the sheer power of Greek and Latin roots as they form the very semantic and morphemic structure of the English language, but also contains a prolific number of GRE and SAT vocabulary words, including a vast host of medical vocabulary. Or, if you're looking to learn vocabulary for the SAT or GRE verbal section, check out, where vocabulary is taught to you via an Adaptive Reinforcement Engine in a fun and engaging way which at the same time enhances your memory.