Women and pills

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Women and pills



[url=http://www.thestar.com/living/Health/article/233676]Not crazy about the headline for this article (I can't imagine that Zerbasias would have chosen it)[/url] but the article itself is very interesting.


After all, during the war years, they had paycheques, independence and identity.

Afterward, as Betty Friedan would note in her landmark 1963 bestseller The Feminine Mystique, they had Betty Crocker, Swanson dinners and the Fuller Brush Man.

Which might explain a curious event last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Citizens there excitedly turned out to watch the unearthing of a 50-year-old time capsule – a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere loaded with artifacts of its era. Among them, a "typical'' woman's purse which contained bobby pins, gum, loose change, a compact, cigarettes, an unpaid parking ticket ... and a bottle of tranquillizers.

What made that purse "typical'' is lost in the sludge of the oil town's past. Even Tulsa Historical Society spokesperson Barby Jobe could offer little: "There is no documentation."

What's more, although the car was protected from nuclear attack, it was vulnerable to water. The medicine bottle and its label became too degraded for identification. So we'll never know exactly which tranquillizers that "typical" Tulsa gal was popping.

Says TulsaWorld journalist Randy Kriehbel, who has been following the story: "All I can tell you is what was reported in the newspapers at the time."

Which was not much, since women's concerns didn't rate a lot of coverage back then.

The fact that the town officials considered a purse containing tranquillizers – as well as a photo of a 20-year-old bride – as representative of womanhood in 1957 reveals much about the tenor of the times.

"What was that culture saying about women?'' says Toronto therapist Barbara Everett, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario). "That this was as common as lipstick, that they needed to be drugged."


Interesting arcticle. Also interesting to see the succession of pills that have been popular since the 50's. Some mentioned, as well as others which escaped mention were even more addictive than valium and it's myriad benzodiazapine cousins. Combinations of barbituates and amphetamines were handed out like candy. Absolutely ghastly.

Today there is a somewhat greater sophistication in understanding pharmacology and indications. I will quickly add that that's not saying much. I have no doubt that there is a trend to medicate women more with psychoactive drugs than men. Unaccountably, there is not always an understanding that there are different dosage sensitivities between women and men, and different side effect issues. Really, not all Dr.'s know that. Those who do may not be aware that there is a greater sensitivity among the South Asian population to the effects of these meds which affects dosage. That is parenthetical I suppose, but related.

I guess to try and look on the bright side, there is a lot more good information out there about all this sort of think. Non-pharmacological interventions are becoming more widely available although there is room for improvement. From where I sit, I see the role of the western medical model starting to lose it's position of primacy, and those who consume health services, mental and otherwise start to move in from the waiting rooms and start to take a real role at the table.

(geeze, aren't I uncharacteristically optomistic for a Monday morning. must be the halcyon)

[ 09 July 2007: Message edited by: oldgoat ]


Valium killed my mother.

At a time when 1 in 10 North American women were on the stuff.

Think of that: 1 in TEN.

She developed a heart murmur (which I believe was a small tear in her aorta), which was being written about all over the place at the time as an extremely dangerous side effect of valium. Doctors were supposed to get their patients off the shit if they developed one. He didn't. She died.

She begged him to get off the shit several times before she died. She was having weird mood swings and all the flaky flightiness which goes with long term valium addiction. He said everything was fine. So she tried going off them cold turkey, with predictable results: massive mood swings, crying jags, depression. This was a woman who had never even smoked a joint. She didn't know what "withdrawl symptoms" were, she just thought she was going crazy, and so back on the pills she went,; pills that, apparently, are only intended to be used for 3 weeks or less, ie- to cope with the death of a child or spouse; because after three weeks valium's efficacy and addictiveness suddenly invert. But, of course, Doctors dont prescribe them that way, they keep women on them for years.

Social control and hatred of women?
Epidemic medical incompetence?
Untrammelled greed?

Pretty much.

[ 24 July 2007: Message edited by: minkepants ]