mid-15c., distraccioun, "the drawing away of the mind from one point or course to another or others," from Latin distractionem (nominative distractio) "a pulling apart, separating," noun of action from past-participle stem of distrahere "draw in different directions" (see distract).
Sense of "a drawing of the mind in different directions, mental confusion or bewilderment" is from 1590s. Meaning "violent mental disturbance, excitement simulating madness" (in driven to distraction, etc.) is from c. 1600. Meaning "a thing or fact that causes mental diversion or bewilderment" is from 1610s.