Get Rid Of That Anxiety With Daily Dose Of Tylenol
April 16, 2013

Get Rid Of That Anxiety With Daily Dose Of Tylenol

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

There are many people who enjoy the work of filmmaker and musician David Lynch. While these people may find his surreal and often very grim and violent themes to be mesmerizing, others could have a very different reaction. His video for the song “Crazy Clown Time,” for example, features no shortage of spinning camera work, violent sounding drums and enough NSFW material to make even the most adventurous feel a slight twinge of angst or discomfort.

Now a new study has found those unwilling to partake in a Lynchian film but pressured by their friends to watch “Eraserhead” can pop a few Tylenol first to avoid the inevitable existential dread to follow.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) discovered that in addition to relieving temporary pain, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can also reduce “the psychological effects of fear and anxiety over the human condition, or existential dread.”

This study has since been published in the Association for Psychological Science journal Psychological Science.

“Pain exists in many forms, including the distress that people feel when exposed to thoughts of existential uncertainty and death,” lead author Daniel Randles with the department of psychology at UBC, said in a statement. “Our study suggests these anxieties may be processed as ℠pain´ by the brain — but Tylenol seems to inhibit the signal telling the brain that something is wrong.”

Building on previous research which found humans will reassert their basic values when faced with thoughts of death, Randles and crew hypothesized the acetaminophen in Tylenol could also keep existential dread at bay.

To test this theory, the UBC team performed a double blind study wherein they asked participants to go through experiences which would cause them to confront difficult subject material, such as death and David Lynch videos. The volunteers were given either a dose of Tylenol or a sugar pill as a placebo. One group of participants was then asked to explain, in writing, what they believed would happen to their body once they pass on. The second group of volunteers was only asked to explain what it feels like to experience dental pain. Next, all volunteers were asked to read a police report about a prostitute who had been arrested. The participants were then asked to set bail for the woman.

The control group that wrote about dental pain and wasn´t asked to explain their demise were more lenient on the prostitute, setting an average bail of about $300.

The group which was asked to explain their death after taking a sugar pill were more harsh on the prostitute, setting an average bail of about $500. Those from this group who took Tylenol were not as harsh when setting bail, however.

In a second study, the UBC researchers aimed to confirm these results by showing volunteers different David Lynch videos and a riot following a hockey game. Just as it was seen in the previous study, those who took a sugar pill more harshly judged the rioters after watching the David Lynch video, while those who took Tylenol were more lenient with the rioters. Randles says this not only proves David Lynch can have a serious effect on people, but also a drug as simple as Tylenol could be used to cure a worried mind.

“We´re still taken aback that we´ve found that a drug used primarily to alleviate headaches can also make people numb to the worry of thinking about their deaths, or to the uneasiness of watching a surrealist film,” said Randles in closing.

“For people who suffer from chronic anxiety, or are overly sensitive to uncertainty, this work may shed some light on what is happening and how their symptoms could be reduced.”