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Cabin fever is a condition that produces restlessness and irritability caused from being in a confined space. The actual word is a slang term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a party is isolated and/or shut in together for an extended period of time.

The term possibly originated in the United States at the time when settlers would be snowed in to their log cabins and had to wait for the spring thaw in order to travel to town. Another possible source for this phrase could be that during an outbreak of some disease, people who had a fever were confined to a cabin as a quarantine. Most likely, the phrase may be associated with ocean-crossing sailing ships in which passengers had to endure weeks and months of slow travel while living in cramped cabins below deck.

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms dates this phrase as late 1800s, and the Online Etymology Dictionary says it was first recorded in 1918.

Psychologists claim that the principles which apply to cabin fever also apply to workplace bullying. The causes and settings are similar: a group of people forced together by circumstances for long periods of time.

Some people say that the British Admiral Lord Nelson suffered from cabin fever, and thus on the ship HMS HMS Victory, he had an enormous cabin built to settle this confinement disorder.

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