Now let’s concentrate on one aspect of this comparison between the patented medicine’s of yesteryear and the antidepressants of today. Let’s look at the problems which some of the patented medications claimed to correct, and compare them to the problems allegedly addressed by today’s antidepressants. We will see that the symptoms which both the older, and the newer, panaceas claim to correct are both unreasonably broad.
First we will take a look at 2 more of the medicines sold around the turn of the twentieth century. This information is taken from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Website. The Smithsonian’s Website states, “Unscrupulous manufacturers greatly exaggerated the curative powers of their remedies, selling them as “panaceas” or “cure-alls.””
Dr. E. C. West’s Nerve and Brain Treatment
Date made: 1870-1906: The indications or uses for this product as provided on its packaging:
For hysteria, dizziness, convulsions, fits, nervous neuralgia, headache, nervous prostration caused by the use of alcohol or tobacco, wakefulness, mental depression, loss of memory, softening of the brain resulting in insanity, premature old age, barrenness, loss of power in either sex, involuntary emissions and spermatorrhoea caused by over exertion of the brain, self-abuse or over indulgence.
Dr. Fuller’s Electro Spiral Magnetic Vegetable Vapor Cure
The indications or uses for this product as provided on its packaging:
For headache; neuralgia; catarrh; hoarseness; asthma; hay fever; colds in the head; pleurisy and sciatica; nervous headache; dizziness; clouded memory; loss of nerve power, and all diseases of the mucous membrane
Maker: Fuller & Fuller
Date Made: 1888-1906 Place Made: Chicago, Illinois http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object.cfm?key=35&gkey=51&objkey=4679
These medicines and titles are pretty amusing aren’t they? I especially like “Dr. Fuller’s Electro Spiral Magnetic Vegetable Vapor Cure”. It is hard to imagine how someone could have been impressed by this ridiculous sounding jargon. And yet look at the years of production 1888-1906. Almost 20 years! We need to remember that both electrical and magnetic technologies were new, and so these buzz words pushed buttons for the audience at that time. But before we get too haughty, and scoff too loudly at these absurd substances, let’s take a look at today’s miracle drug Prozac, and the way it is marketed to us.
Below is the information page on symptoms of depression from prozac.com. Observe for yourself whether or not the authors are trying to sell the idea of being depressed to you and as many of your loved ones as possible. Notice how they are very reluctant to exclude anyone from their target audience.
Depression is a medical illness that disrupts your life. It involves your whole body. Depression affects your thoughts, emotions, behavior, and the way you feel about yourself. Depression can also change the way you think and feel about other people, about situations at work or in a social setting, or even about things such as your garden, your house, or your clothing.
Everyone is different, and the symptoms you experience may vary from those experienced by others. Does one or more of the following symptoms sound familiar to you?
• Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day. Depressed mood and crying spells are symptoms of depression. However, many people who have depression are not sad, although they may have difficulty describing the way they feel.
• Lack of interest or pleasure in your usual activities and a lack of motivation. Depression makes it difficult to care about things that used to be important. You may have to push yourself to get things done. Even little things can seem a burden. Many people who have depression say they are bored and sluggish, and even if they have no sleep problems, they are tired all the time. Reduced interest in sex is also common.
• Changes in appetite. Depression can increase or decrease appetite, so people who have depression may gain or lose weight.
• Sleep problems. Some people who have depression are unable to fall asleep; some awaken often during the night and may be unable to get back to sleep. And some have sleep that is restless and dream-filled. Other depressed people may sleep too much, or find they need frequent naps in addition to their usual night’s sleep.
• Anxiety or restlessness. People who have depression are often restless and anxious to the point of agitation. The anxiety can cause impatience and anger, and make people less able to deal with even a low level of stress.
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and insecurity. People with depression often feel negatively about themselves, the world around them, and the future. They may feel guilty about things in the past. Many people with depression feel that they are worthless or that their depression is a punishment for something they have done or left undone. Depression can lead to feelings of insecurity and the need to be dependent on others. It can also lead to poor grooming and personal hygiene.
• Difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly. Depression makes it hard to think clearly, and decisions about even small things may be difficult to make. Often, people who have depression cannot concentrate easily – so work and daily routines become less efficient, and feelings of failure and disgust may appear.
• Fatigue or lack of energy.
• Thoughts of suicide. Many depressed people think about death. Thoughts and actions related to death may occur as part of a wish to end pain, suffering, and confusion.
Can an intelligent reader consider this information and not recognize that the authors are deliberately trying to include as many people as possible under the umbrella of depression.
From the Eli Lilly and Co. web site, 2008. Excerpts from the information section about the symptoms of depression. Notice that it would be impossible to exclude anyone from the introductory statement and the information that follows. “Does one or more of the following symptoms sound familiar to you?” Also notice that the terms disease and illness are used without any definition or hard scientific proof. The flavor of propaganda is in the air with unwarranted dogmatic statements like, “Depression is a medical illness that disrupts your life.”
The list of symptoms becomes downright amusing when a particular symptom, and also the opposite of that symptom are listed as signs of the “disease”. Notice that “depressed mood and crying spells are symptoms of depression. However, many people who have depression are not sad.” Sadness can easily be understood as a symptom of a depressed mood, however, how can not being sad also be characteristic of depression? Sleeping too much and not being able to sleep are also both symptoms of depression. Notice again that “Many people who have depression say they are bored and sluggish.” And yet, “People who have depression are often restless and anxious to the point of agitation.” Under the subheading “Changes in appetite” we read, “Depression can increase or decrease appetite, so people who have depression may gain or lose weight.”
So, you are depressed if you are sad or not sad, sluggish or agitated, sleeping too much or unable to sleep, and gaining or losing weight. Needless to say these are not hard and fast diagnostic criteria. These symptoms seem so purposefully elastic so as to include anyone thinking that they might be depressed. Do you get the feeling that you are experiencing something like what happens when a psychic tries to connect with someone by speaking in such broad and evasive terms so as to include almost everyone?
The promoters of this medication tread on overtly religious grounds when they explicitly claim to help people who “may feel guilty about things in the past. Many people with depression feel that they are worthless or that their depression is a punishment for something they have done or left undone.” Do the writers of this “helpful information” about depression believe that such feelings may be legitimate and may, in fact, require forgiveness from a Holy and forgiving God? We don’t know absolutely for sure. However, the implication here is that the drug Prozac will help alleviate these symptoms. If, as a Christian, you are not deeply offended by these claims, then there is something seriously faulty about your conception of God. You should recognize that it arouses Him to jealousy to claim to be able to provide the forgiveness and cleansing of the conscience that He alone is able to provide. He gave His Son to die a horrible death on the cross to gain these benefits for you. To attempt to find them in a bottle or to associate yourself with those who claim to be able to provide relief from these things in pill form is insulting to God and His Son who suffered for you to have these blessings.
After this list of symptoms, which clearly has a broad recruitment objective, we find another revealing propaganda statement. Since common sense would suggest that these are normal problems of living, it seems as if the authors of this advertisement want to replace that common sense with their agenda by saying, “Remember, these are real symptoms of a real illness. Don’t blame yourself for feeling awful. Instead, see your doctor, follow his or her treatment advice, and begin taking your life back.” It is so easy to forget that these are “real symptoms of a real illness” because they are such common problems of the human condition, and they cover such opposing symptoms, that the authors need us to “remember” their claim.