Lifestyle & Belief

Existential dread? Tylenol might help


Researchers found that Tylenol may actually reduce the existential dread we feel after watching David Lynch movies.


Scott Olson

Too much time in Parisian cafes reading Sartre? Having feelings of existential dread?

There's a pill for that.

Researchers have found that good ol' Tylenol could have stopped the birth of French existentialism as we know it.

Canadian scientists discovered that acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol, can reduce feelings of fear, anxiety and "existential dread."

The double blind study used images of death and David Lynch videos and then gave some patients Tylenol and others a sugar pill.

The participants were first asked to write about their death or about dental pain.

They were then asked to set bail for an arrested prostitute (who comes up with this stuff!?)

Those who took the Tylenol were more lenient on the prostitute than the sugar pill-eaters.

A separate study evaluated levels of dread after subjects had watched videos of rioting and David Lynch films.

Again, the Tylenol-poppers were less harsh in their judgments of the rioters.

“Pain exists in many forms, including the distress that people feel when exposed to thoughts of existential uncertainty and death,” said lead author Daniel Randles with the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia, in a statement.

“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.”

The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.