Interesting research from the University of British Columbia: Apparently Tylenol can also ease aches and pains of the existential kind. Look for new Sartre strength in the “Ennui” aisle of your local drug store:
New research this week found that Tylenol altered the way subjects passed moral judgements. Psychologists used that as a proxy measure for personal distress, a relationship that has been previously demonstrated. Daniel Randles and colleagues at the University of British Columbia write in the journal Psychological Science, “The meaning-maintenance model posits that any violation of expectations leads to an affective experience that motivates compensatory affirmation. We explore whether the neural mechanism that responds to meaning threats can be inhibited by acetaminophen.” Totally. More plainly, “Physical pain and social rejection share a neural process and subjective component that are experienced as distress.” That neural process has been traced to the same part of the brain. They figure that if you blunt one, you blunt both. As they told LiveScience, “When people feel overwhelmed with uncertainty in life or distressed by a lack of purpose, what they’re feeling may actually be painful distress … We think that Tylenol is blocking existential unease in the same way it prevents pain, because a similar neurological process is responsible for both types of distress.”
I’ve got a headache this big and it has “crushing weight of anomie” all over it. Keep reading.