Medications are prescribed to ease pain and what ails us. They function as forces that both fight and bring us relief. Hence, we use the terms "painkillers" and "tranquilizers." We fill a prescription, follow directions, and experience our burden lightened. And sometimes our medication not only removes distress, but seems to take away more and we end up feeling very little of anything at all. One friend described the effects of his allergy medication as making him "too spacey" to notice that his congestion was still prevalent.
Medication can create new symptoms that require additional medication to now treat the side effects. Chemicals are used to take us somewhere else as far away from our current circumstances as possible and even to the point of going to sleep permanently in an endeavor to divest ourselves of all our concerns including life itself.
Medications are grouped into different types and like various social causes they are identified by what they oppose: anti-biotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, etc. Yet, based on the outcomes of our decision making, there appears to be another class of medication. Eating, snacking, spending, or watching television provide relief from the stresses of the day and can produce their own cluster of side effects in larger doses.
In 1834, Ezekiel Webb wrote in his "Philosophy of Medicine" that the purpose of medication was to "prevent the entrance and fixity of the morbid sensibilities consequential to the invasion of the causative agents of diseases" (p. 245). However, the choice patterns of our lifestyles can generate another form of fixity that keeps us stuck within cycles of attitudes that only succeed in disengaging us from more actively participating in our lives for the better. The numbing effects of medicative habits can keep us on the couch as a spectator of the events in our existence and our world rather than off the bench and in the game. We refer to sports franchises as "our team" or political parties as "our representatives" expecting them to win a victory for us. All the while we adjust our sensationless limbs and precipitate the spilling of our medication on ourselves. This evokes the line from the old Palmolive commercial: "You're soaking in it."
What is the remedy to this fixity? Oscar Wilde proposed that when people are involved in work that is meaningful the curative properties are extensive. However, this solution falls on ears that have heard their fill of financial and economic news of late. This explains why many persevere in jobs that are menial in order to make ends meet and re-career themselves into a profession that can offer them a way to make a difference. Individuals can take hold of more by getting lucky or assertively making it happen. Many of us settle for less in order to sustain and pursue more. And others settle for less for other reasons.
Medication of the masses is a cultural symptom from both without and within. Ideologically driven opinion can reduce the diagnosis to either one or the other. However, we can sabotage ourselves through self-medication or be medicated by consumerism and media that anesthetizes us with stuff to keep us entertained, amused, and essentially unproductive and uninvolved.
As Ezekiel Webb referred to the influence of the nervous system to manifest sensation and response to stimulus, it is also apt to conclude that a nervous system free of fixity can dynamically promulgate "intellectual movement."
"To me, if life boils down to one thing, it's movement. To live is to keep moving." -- Jerry Seinfeld.