In what might be the most wonderful study about existential angst to ever be performed, researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that the same pill that helps soothe your stress headache may help mitigate the sense of doom you feel when confronting the meaning of life. That’s heavy. Let that sink in. Tylenol may be the antidote to the human condition. My inner Goth is doing the pain dance right now. If only I had known about the magic of Tylenol from the age 14 to 30. Maybe things would have been easier. But enough about me. Back to the experiment, the methodology of which was straight out of a Kubrick film.
The researchers divided participants into two groups. Some members of the first group were given Tylenol and others a placebo. Then they were asked to talk about what happens to their bodies after they die. Next, they were asked to hypothetically determine the amount of bail to set for a prostitute. In both instances, those who took the Tylenol felt less anxiety when discussing such macabre topics. OH. It gets even more maudlin. The second group was made to watch a “surreal, confusing” film by David Lynch (yes, please!) . Then they were asked to determine punishment for people inciting a riot. Again, the Tylenol users fared better in these existentially complex situations.
“The new finding is that, if participants had taken Tylenol, this effect (of people who are unsettled or uneasy making harsher judgments) disappeared entirely and they looked just like the control group that hadn’t talked about their death or watched the unpleasant (film) clip,” the head researcher said.
First of all, I’m going out to buy a huge ass bottle of Tylenol. Secondly, I’d like to meet the person who thought up this experiment because he or she is clearly the kind of genius who I need to be friends with. Lastly, I’d like to throw a weekly existentialism party where I set up these sort of morally and spiritually complex situations and see how people react. Like, I’ll make everyone read Kierkegaard and then ask them to watch people on YouTube taking the Condom Challenge. There will be wine and a big bowl of Tylenol on my coffee table. You would come to my existential party, right? Wait. Don’t answer that question until you’ve popped a Tylenol. [The Star]