Mental and emotional distress. Yes, you mean like when you scuff across the kitchen in the morning, and you go to grab the Captain Crunch, and its just crumbs, and then you’re frozen – cloaked in sadness, anxiety, and despondence?

Uhh maybe. This is more like actual emotional distress caused by another’s negligence or intentional harm.

Unfortunately, the validity of actual mental and emotional distress has been muddied by obscure claims by dolts looking for a quick mint. Like the guy who sues the fast food restaurant because he spills his drink on his lap, pulling out of the drive-through, and t-bones a Smart car in the other lane. Or like the gal who sued the weatherman for irreparable damage and stress due to his inaccurate forecast prompting her to wear inappropriate clothing. Sick. Or even like those good looking New England Patriots fans who were looking to prosecute the NFL, citing emotional distress over Goodell’s “deflategate” punishment.

Yes, some of these things are humorous. Yes, I snickered, reader. But they muddy the claim. Emotional distress has real, tangible symptoms and ailments. WebMD outlines a few of them:

  1. Sleep disturbances. “If you have recurring disturbances of sleep more than once or twice a week, and there are no physical reasons your doctor can identify, your problem may be linked to psychological problem,” states WebMD’s medical doctors.
  2. Dramatic weight fluctuations
  3. Changes in eating patterns
  4. Unexplained physical symptoms (headaches, diarrhea, constipation, backaches)
  5. Difficulty managing anger
  6. Compulsive/Obsessive behaviors
  7. Chronic fatigue
  8. Memory problems
  9. Shunning social activity
  10. Loss of sexual appetite

Circumstantially crippling. Never mind the fact that it has become a legitimate legal tort, with essential investigative elements. What’s a “tort”? A tort is a noun, meaning “a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to civil legal liability” (according to Webster). Essentially, the emotional distress tort became a legal reality to arm prosecutors with a tool to combat harmful wrongdoing that didn’t consist of battery.