Tylenol, we all know, is a surefire salve for minor aches and pains. But according to a new study, it might help with some greater afflictions, too. Like the anguish of knowing that the universe is a cold, indifferent place and our time in it little more than a cosmic blip of infinitesimally small importance.
The findings come from a study recently published in the journal Psychological Science. Previous studies had shown that acetaminophen, the generic form of Tylenol, was effective for alleviating nonphysical forms of pain, like that of being separated from loved ones. Researchers from the University of British Columbia wondered if those healing powers extended to even greater existential concerns. Turns out, they did. Here’s what Daniel Randles, the paper’s lead author, had to say about the results:
'Pain exists in many forms, including the distress that people feel when exposed to thoughts of existential uncertainty and death,' says Randles.
Our study suggests these anxieties may be processed as ‘pain’ by the brain--but Tylenol seems to inhibit the signal telling the brain that something is wrong.
Randles says the results could lead to a better understanding of afflictions like chronic anxiety.
Of course, it should be noted that acetaminophen overdose is also the leading cause of acute liver failure, and one of the most common types of poisoning that exists in the world today, so you probably shouldn’t go gobbling down a whole bottle the next time you find yourself contemplating your inevitable demise. The fact is, we’re all going to die. And if you do find that distressing, just remember what Woody Allen said: At least death is one of the few things you can do perfectly well lying down.