Tabin: Now appears to be the time to
stand athwart outrage and yell Stop. First in doing so I must present my
credentials as someone who takes pain seriously. I have touched despair
and brushed tragedy, though thankfully not endured terrorism. Though
neither earth-shattering trauma nor the subsequent resort to Paxil (or
anything else) is silly, what does have a whiff of silliness about it is a
serious attack on a comic attack, the sort of which the reasonable reader might
sense from a piece that goes out on a note of zombie prom nights.
But, as is true of all good caricatures, the point of
departure is truth: in this case, the observation that Paxil is one
(but not the only one) overprescribed or over-the-counter drug meant to
counteract the overreaching "symptoms" of overdiagnosed
disorders. The symptom of paralyzing fear is as indicative of a need for
medication as the symptom of uneasiness in strange or intimidating situations
Behaving otherwise is as absurd as the determination
that an attack on Paxil and its uses is an attack on pain and its sufferers.
John Steinbeck remembered, too, that you can smother with kisses. Someone who
sweats their way through a speech does not need a coterie of physicians and
psychologists to push their way through the crowd shouting about his life being
in danger: "Give him some air!" Indeed — what the truly non-traumatized
need most is not a place at the till but a breath of fresh air, free from our
cultural pathology of coping without cure.