Tylenol can "ward off existential dread of death and nothingness"

Here'a a study from 2013 that recently resurfaced on Twitter. If you suffer from angst and are willing to ruin your liver, Tylenol can ease the "anxiety brought on by pondering the meaning of life."

One group of participants was instructed to write two paragraphs about what would happen to their body after they die and how they would feel about it. The others were asked to write about dental pain, which would be unpleasant, but likely wouldn’t invoke any existential anxieties. All of the students then had to read a hypothetical arrest report about a prostitute and set the amount for bail on a scale of $0 to $900.

In this type of setup, researchers typically expect people to set higher bonds after faced with existential thoughts, suddenly feeling a need to assert their values. As anticipated, those who took the sugar pill and were forced to think about their own death tended to set bail over $500.

The placebo group who only wrote about dental pain, on the other hand, set the prostitute’s bond at $300 – the same amount that people who took Tylenol and then thought about their earthly body’s putrid decay settled upon. The researchers think the Tylenol’s acetaminophen may have numbed their existential pain and made them more lenient towards the imprisoned prostitute, LiveScience writes.

I wonder if aspirin and ibuprofen have the same effect. (Also, no matter how angsty I felt, I would set the prostitute's bail at $0 and shake my fist angrily at the criminal justice system for arresting him or her in the first place.)

Image: Shutterstock/Chip Chip

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