What is it with all the drug ads on TV, especially during the day? In one commercial break, you can sometimes get 2 or 3 ads in a row about some horrible illness or some condition that’s made to sound like a horrible illness.

Pills of all kinds to help you. And unlike those nasty drugs we’ve been told to “just say no” to for so many years, these pills are all perfectly legal and right there for the asking – with the help of your friendly doctor and pharmaceutical company.

But oh…those nasty side-effects. Long laundry lists of new conditions that scare me just thinking about them. And weirdest of all, sometimes the side-effect is almost the same as the condition you’re trying to cure!

As much as I know there are many people helped by these drugs, do we have to see ads for them in our face all day long? As far as I’m concerned, we’re being sold a lot of sick thinking. I mean, after listening to ad after ad, day in and day out, your brain can’t help but be filled with symptoms and side-effects all glommed together until they become a part of you in some way. Although I can’t prove it (yet), they must be having an adverse effect of some kind on people who watch these ads a lot.

To this point, I am reminded of Norman Cousins, who immersed himself in laughter to help relieve his symptoms. On that topic, I found this in a biology department article on serendip.brynmar.edu:

Cousins read of the theory that negative emotions be harmful to the body, and so hypothesized that if the negative emotions were detrimental to your health, then the positive emotions should improve health. Cousins, still battling his ailment, was being treated with high doses of painkillers, which he realized were being harmful to his body. This realization motivated him to prescribe himself a medication of a different sort. He hired a nurse who would read him humorous stories, and play for him Marx Brothers movies. This proved to be effective, as in very little time, Cousins was off of all painkillers and sleeping pills. He found that the laughter relieved pain and would help him sleep.

Cousins published his story and his claims of the benefits of laughter, but was received with much criticism. In 1989, it was finally acknowledged in the Journal of the American Medical Association that laughter therapy could help to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses, and that laughter has an immediate symptom-relieving effect. The increase in threshold for pain during laughter that Cousins experienced has been confirmed in laboratory studies. Since Norman Cousins declared that he “laughed himself out of” a deadly disease, scientists have theorized that laughter has the ability to strengthen the human immune system.

To me the most important point is: if laughter can make us feel better and our mind really does play a role in how we feel and heal, then maybe…just maybe…watching all those ads about disease and symptoms day after day ad nauseam is not helping us at all. And maybe it’s actually hurting us.

This isn’t just about positive thinking. I believe we’re totally capable of dealing with negative thoughts – in proportion.

But if you are home all day (maybe because you’re already not feeling well) and watching a lot of those ads…you are being bombarded with way too many messages of illness and disease. That sure doesn’t seem like a great way to heal to me!

Just how much sick-thinking are we willing to be sold? I for one have had my fill of them and simply turn off the sound whenever they come on. Or turn off the TV. Enough is enough. But for people for whom TV is a comfort for whatever reason (it was to my mom when she couldn’t get around much any more), don’t they deserve a chance to be spared what seems to me like a home shopping channel of diseases!

Well…that’s my take on it. I’d like to know what you think. Does this bug you as much as it bugs me?


Note: A version of this was originally published on a blog I had for a very short time. I decided Out of My Head was as good a place as any to rant about Big Pharma instead! You can see my related rant at: How “Unselling” Is Bringing Down Drug Costs