My doctor prescribed N for me to take when other drugs were proving ineffective against an ailment from which I suffer. However, when I filled the prescription and took a look at the fine print, I noticed that the drug is an anti-depressant. No way did I want to take an anti-depressant. Oh, I could probably use one; but it is a point of philosophic pride (and stupidity?) that I deal with my “mental” problems by means of reasoning alone. So I just put the bottle in my medicine chest and forgot about it.
After a while, the original ailment was bugging me ever more, and I remembered the bottle in the cabinet. I also called to mind the example of a colleague, who had been taking an anti-depressant and whom I had berated for doing so on the aforementioned philosophic grounds. He replied that a true philosopher would not be dogmatic and insist that there can be only one right way to do something. The temptation then became too strong to resist and I popped the pill.
Well, the drug – like all the others -- did not help with my ailment at all. However, I instantly noticed the most amazing thing … indeed, the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me! I lost my despair.
That is a story in itself, which I will someday tell at length. The point I want to make now in this brief essay is a general one about causation (though with far broader implications still). The drug N is in fact billed as an anti-depressant (or, in my case, an anti-desperant, as my cousin Pam coined it). But my doctor had prescribed it to me for an organic condition because he had tried so many other things without success and he thought it worth trying this one because it can have a side-effect that would be ameliorative to my condition.
As it turned out, its billed designation as an anti-depressant was what worked on me, but not the side effect. Indeed, it turned out to have another side effect – heartburn – that was so severe I had to stop taking it, alas. Ironically (now doubly so), my doctor had denied that N could have this side effect, and sent me to a specialist for the heartburn. The specialist also denied that heartburn could be a side effect of N and had me undergo an endoscopy! Finding nothing, he then prescribed a drug for me to take for the heartburn, which made me feel even worse. Finally, I took it upon myself to test my own hypothesis and stopped taking N. The heartburn vanished instantly!
What I conclude from this experience is that the designation “side effect” is purely relative to the intended use of a drug. In fact a drug has a global effect on a body or a person; and it is, in the abstract, arbitrary which component of that global effect is considered the therapeutic target and which others are, therefore, “side effects.”
My hypothesis about N in particular is that it works by slowing down (or whatever the physical equivalent of that is) the whole body, including the brain – that is its global effect. The drug is marketed as something that will treat depression by slowing down the cerebral/cognitive processes (obsessive thoughts) that make one feel depressed. But my doctor has prescribed it to me because he wanted to slow down another part of my body, which was causing me painful spasms. Meanwhile the drug slowed down my metabolism, thereby causing my heartburn.
Popular posts from this blog
by Joel Marks December 29, 2015 It’s nothing short of a miracle. Pressure points, aka trigger points – have you heard of them? I could not tell you what the underlying physiology is. But I learned about them in practice from a good friend of mine, who is a masseur and also the creator of a line of simple tools for self-massage. When a number of years ago I began noticing that sign of exceeding the normal lifespan of Homo erectus, namely, lower back pain, Allan gave me a squash ball to place between my back and the wall and then roll across. The aim was to discover a pressure point which was somehow responsible for the “referred pain” in my back. After some experimenting I found a spot on one side of my spine, seeming to be in a cord that ran up and down the side of my back parallel to the spine (there being another cord on the other side as well). How did I know it was “the” spot? Because it hurt sharply when the ball rolled over it. Lo and behold, after doing this for no
The other day an old friend told me of her regret about the decision she had made in her early life to go to graduate school A rather than graduate school B, because it may have shut off some career opportunities. Philosopher that I am, I immediately dismissed her concern by pointing out that her beloved daughter would not even exist had my friend made a different decision. My friend did not at first see the connection, so I explained that I was referring to the utter contingency of which sperm meets which egg; so the slightest alteration of prior conditions would mean a different person, or no person, would have been born. Although she then saw what I was getting at, this did not lift her regret. I chalked it up to the usual irrationality of nonphilosophers (which also includes all philosophers when they revert to being just plain people, which is really just about all of the time, even in their professional role). But some musing on another subject has now given me a differ
OK, this is not a new theory of the Trump Presidency. From the very first it was speculated that he had become an accidental president, never expecting to win and perhaps not even wanting to, but with some ulterior motive most likely linked to marketing the Trump brand in his future business dealings. Of course there were also darker murmurings (and indications) that he was a Manchurian candidate … perhaps even an unintentional and totally befuddled one more along the lines of Being There . But Trump’s behavior since losing the election to Biden has been (and continues to be as I write) so off the wall, so seemingly intended to make him look as bad and bonkers and just plain pathetic as possible, as to suggest, and indeed support another theory I myself (along with others, no doubt) had entertained from the very start, which is that he’s doing it just for a joke, just for the sport. Basically he wants to see just how far somebody can go in putting one over on people.