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Rethinking Pills: Fantasies, Realities, Possibilities

Rethinking Pills: Fantasies, Realities, Possibilities

(p.56) 4 Rethinking Pills: Fantasies, Realities, Possibilities
The Distressed Body
Drew Leder
University of Chicago Press

The pharmaceutical industry has undergone a vast expansion in recent decades. This chapter explores the central role now played by pills in clinical practice, but also in the public imagination. A phenomenological analysis shows various ways in which pills can serve as ideal consumer items for widespread distribution; and also as model technological “devices” capable of downloading into the body healing chemicals. As such, they seem to promise a disburdening solution to many of life’s ills. Yet negative side-effects are explored not only of pills themselves, but of this exaggerated cultural fantasy of the all-curative pill. It tends to distract us from other more holistic understandings of the locus of disease and healing, including the mind/body’s own “meaning response” as illustrated by the placebo effect. Rather than demonize all pills, the quest is for a model that would help us choose and use them wisely. The pill, it is suggested, can best be re-contextualizing as a multidimensional gift. Suggestions are made for how this may lead to appropriate understanding, gratitude, and discernment. We may thus ingest fewer pills, but with greater efficacy.

Keywords:   pharmaceutical industry, pills, clinical practice, phenomenology, healing, side effects, disease, placebo effect

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