Fear death? Pop a Tylenol
Johnson & Johnson's popular pain reliever has been found to reduce 'existential angst' -- that is, if you're watching 'Eraserhead' or pondering prostitutes' bail amounts.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) executives wouldn't be blamed for taking some of their own headache medicine, given the government's takeover of three of its Tylenol plants in 2011.
But now the health care products giant has gotten a bit of bright news. A new report published in Psychological Science found that Tylenol and other medicines with acetaminophen can help alleviate "existential angst."
"Pain extends beyond tissue damage and hurt feelings, and includes the distress and existential angst we feel when we're uncertain or have just experienced something surreal. Regardless of the kind of pain, taking Tylenol seems to inhibit the brain signal that says something is wrong," lead researcher Daniel Randles, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia in Canada, said in a statement.
The study might boost sales of Tylenol if down-in-the-dumps people look for cheap and quick ways to boost their spirits. That could turn the medication into one that's bought by consumers for a secondary reason, such as the way some people pop an aspirin as a heart attack and stroke prevention aid.
The study likely comes as a welcome surprise for J&J, which has suffered from a series of setbacks including the Tylenol plants and claims that its DePuy unit defectively designed a metal-on-metal hip implant.
The researchers said their findings "suggest that Tylenol may have more profound psychological effects than previously thought," according to a statement from Psychological Science.
In a double-blind study, participants took either Tylenol-brand acetaminophen or a sugar-pill placebo. One group was asked to write about what would happen to their bodies after they die (creating existential dread), while the control group was asked to write about experiencing dental pain (unpleasant but not particularly angst-creating). After that, all were asked to read a report about a prostitute then set a bail amount.
People in the group that took Tylenol were less harsh about the bail amount they would assign the prostitute, the study found. "These results suggest that their existential suffering was 'treated' by the headache drug," the statement said.
A second study group was given the task of watching a "surreal" video by director David Lynch, known for the classic TV series "Twin Peaks" and dark films such as "Eraserhead."
The group that took Tylenol in that experiment were more lenient about a group of rioters following a hockey game.
"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," Randles told the Toronto Star.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
The government"t did not "take over" J&J's plants. The plants remain 100% in the hands of their owners, but the FDA is monitoring quality because the plants' operator had serious issues.
Safety inspections are not "takeovers." They are a fact of life and they keep our families safe.
I'm sure wish all wish that EPA had had a safety inspection in West, Texas.
Please issue a correction and be more careful with words in the future.
told me if I needed anything for other pain to only take ACETAMINOPHEN so I have... However I have not taken the Highly Expensive J&J TYLENOL but have bought OTC GENERICS..., mainly PERRIGO or made for PERRIGO for the over 30 years... To me Acetaminophen is Acetaminophen and I have always gotten results from the OTC Brands... I don't believe I ever suffered Existential Angst but if it has helped as I have grown older that is Great...!!
Sounds like a stupid stunt put on by J&J to boost sale of their stock. Why does it have to be a specific brand? A serious study would have them studying acetaminophen regardless of manufacturer. No, sorry, but I'm not buying this crock at all.
Tylenol has always made me sick to my stomach. I have friends who suffer severely from depression its sad to see them withering away. I SERIOUSLY doubt an aspirin wouldhelp them.
Tylenol must be dropping out of hte stock market and needs a boost in sales.
Wake up folks.
It's not just Tylenol that may or may not cause liver disease (Many prescription drugs do much the same.)
The active ingredient (acetaminophen) in Tylenol is the culprit.
However, this is the active ingredient in all over the counter pain relievers on the market today that are safe for people who are on blood thinners. The list includes store brand products such as Walmart's Equate brand of Tylenol type pain relievers and many more brands.
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