The notion of weakness, coming from the Latin word debilĭtas, refers to the scarcity or absence of force, energy or power. Depending on the context, the term can be used in different ways.
For example: “I began to feel a strange weakness in my legs and decided to consult a doctor”, “Children who have eating problems suffer from weakness and cannot do well in school”, “The shooting guard’s injury further accentuated the weakness of the local team”.
When a person lacks strength in their muscles, they experience muscle weakness, also known as myasthenia. The causes of this disorder are diverse: a reduced level of potassium in muscle cells, a musculoskeletal disease, etc.
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Muscle weakness can be classified as perceived when an individual feels that they must make a great effort to perform each action. True muscle weakness, on the other hand, occurs when the muscles exert less force than expected.
The idea of feeblemindedness, on the other hand, refers to a mild intellectual disability. In ancient times the concept was used to describe a wide range of mental problems, although today its use is much more limited.
From the end of the 19th century and until the beginning of the 20th, people were spoken of as weak-minded or mentally weak to refer to various mental deficiencies, among which was what we currently call mental retardation in all its degrees and types, and also dyslexia, a learning disability that makes reading and writing difficult.
It is important to point out that initially this term did not have a pejorative connotation, but was used as a psychiatric label that accurately described the condition of the patients, much like the word idiot and its respective disorder, idiocy.
In a few words, on the other hand, the concept of mental weakness is used to group a series of symptoms or a syndrome that especially affects the affective sphere: decay, pathological sadness, a mood disorder or irritability, all issues that can negatively affect the performance of the person in their daily activities, such as work and study, to the point of limiting it.
Nowadays, when talking about feeblemindedness, reference is made to mental retardation in a mild form, in accordance with what is stipulated by the World Health Organization ( WHO ).
A weakness can also be symbolic or subjective. A sports journalist can affirm that the weakness of a football team is its defense since he considers that it is the most vulnerable sector of the group.
We can also use this meaning of the term to talk about those aspects of the personality that “stain” the image of the individual because they are opposed to the rest of their characteristics, which are usually their virtues. For example: «Pablo is a charming boy, with very good ideas and a lot of ability to do his job, but sleeping is his weakness, which is why he is always late».
Finally, when someone feels affection, predilection or passion for something, it is said that they have a weakness for it: “Pastas are my weakness”, “I am a rather severe man, but my niece is my weakness”, “The weakness of my father are the desserts”.
In this framework, it is possible to say that someone or something is a person’s weakness, with a meaning similar to the phrases “it is my favorite food” or “it is my favorite niece”, for example. It is worth mentioning that we generally use this word to refer to our own tastes ; Although it is also possible to talk about the weaknesses of others, it is usually about people whom we know very well.