Friday, September 9, 2011
Pills and Soapbox
Swallowing a pill is an act of faith, well - it is! Google the phrase placebo+effective+studies and see for yourself. Part of why we believe in pills has to do with their form. They're pleasingly small, smooth, expertly crafted, a circle or oval or capsule. Pills are designed to be especially reassuring. Oh yeah, pills are designer creations, you better believe it! Everything about the marketing side of the pharmeceuticals is very sophisticated and expensive - the research that goes into these things, the meetings of execs sitting around looking at various designs for the Next Big Drug, can you imagine? I can.
I'm not against acts of faith, by any means, though I believe that everything, and I do mean everything, deserves scrutiny. Watch the pharmaceutical TV ads: the middle aged couple on a sailboat, living the dream of retirement, soft music in the background, while the crawl at the bottom of the screen is saying if you take this you could have seizures, a heart attack or die. "Side effect." That's jargon for a possible impact of the drug that you might not want to experience. SIDE effect? Who came up with that? It's brilliant - and cold blooded! Pharmaceutical advertising is profoundly well executed, and creepy as hell if you ask me.
Here's the thing: when a person believes a pill is going to fix everything, less attention is paid to the situation that lead up to the malady in question. It's like the ailment arrived from another planet. The pill is meant to vanquish the invader, after which the common wisdom holds that we should go right back to our regular lifestyle - the environment in which the problem developed in the first place. Huh?
Some people know they need to change the way they eat, quit smoking or whatever, and many do make changes in their lives to help themselves stay well. A big ole gassho to those who do it. Not many believe they would have had the strength of character to make the changes under normal circumstances. They got good and scared (interesting phrase) which lit a fire under their butts (also an interesting phrase). A good scare always helps those of little faith get with the program. What I'm saying is that whenever we find ourselves at the doctor's office, it's a little scary. We are open to suggestion at times like that, more vulnerable than "normal." When the doctor prescribes a pill, we relax a little bit. Pills to the rescue!
Even the metaphoric symbolism is apt: we swallow pills whole.
I go on and on about pills, don't I? Perhaps I'll stop here.