There are ways and ways of saying things.
Robin Marantz Henig’s recent article “Valium’s Contribution to our New Normal” in the New York Times Sunday Review revisted the Myth of Mental Illness meme, this time in the form of an argument about how the once ubiquitous anti-anxiety pill, immortalized by the Rolling Stones in their 1966 song, “Mother’s Little Helper,” helped “people who were basically fine” deal with “the ups and downs of daily life.”
Anxiety (that is to say, any form of anxiety short of full-scale panic attacks, full-blown OCD, trip-to-the-emergency-room-level impairment) Henig went on to suggest, was a convenient fiction cooked up in mid-century America by the pharmaceutical industry and pill-happy doctors. Because, as the author once put it to an interviewer, “the ordinary, everyday anxiety it treats did not exist before Valium came along as a way to treat it.”
The above excerpt was originally published in TIME.
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