1 : frenzied, frantic
FRENETIC comes from the Greek work phrenitis, meaning inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include: mental confusion, continuous delirium, fever, headache, drowsiness, paralysis, coma, etc. The medical term is no longer in use and has been replaced by the more modern encephalitis.
While most cases of encephalitis—a viral infection that causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord—pass unnoticed, severe cases can be fatal. On the lighter end of the spectrum the virus causes only headaches, lethargy, fever, and joint pain—typical flu-like symptoms. More severe cases bring confusion, hallucinations, double vision, seizures, tremors, and personality changes—overall FRENETIC behavior.
I imagine this word was chosen today (Black Friday) to call attention to the ludicrous behavior of shoppers who wake at 3:30 am in order to arrive first at Walmart for a half-price DVD player—an item for which they will push, shove, and/or trample other members of the human race. Consumerist culture in America both fosters and encourages this competitive and FRENETIC behavior, especially between the dawn after Thanksgiving and twilight before Christmas Eve. I wonder if these shoppers realize their behavior is likened to those suffering from complicated brain disorders like encephalitis and meningitis. Hm. Better yet, I wonder if there is an actual physical condition that causes one to rationalize the act of rising at such an ungodly hour for a deal* on a Snuggie or something involving the designation "bluetooth." Perhaps involving a slight swelling at the base of the skull...
*likely mediocre compared to the comfort of a warm bed