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Margaret Gardner Intl 3001-001

Chemical Lobotomy: The Trap of the Dystopian Drug Use
“How do we how they’re supposed to be when they’re altered from young ages? Their brains are still growing; they’re still figuring out what kind of individual they want to be, so we’re not even seeing the real person; they don’t even know who they are!” Beth Cothern, Counselor -

As echoed in films like Equilibrium and THX 1138, perhaps one of the most disturbing and potentially unnoticed attacks on human individuality, freedom, and nature itself - come from the abusive psychological warfare that large businesses and governmental institutions inflict on its “children” with the positive promotion of a sedative and approved prescription drug market that robs the human of his mind and life in order to correct a quite often made-up disorder and leave him completely vulnerable and dependent on the control of such institutions. This paper seeks to address a potential future – or potential present, by using both films as a base, while using both films to look at each other.

In a Pop Culture sociology class lecture about two years ago, Professor Phil Rutledge once had remarked to the class that, the rise of successful 20 th century marketing, especially in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s was closely linked to the realization that perhaps one of the easiest marketing tactics was to create a potential “problem” that did not exist before (Cover up your

blemishes ladies! Wear foundation!) , or playing on the psychological hardship of doing something, to promote a product that would facilitate this chore. One example of this was a microwave oven, or an automatic can opener. What better way is there to sell to a consumer than to convince them that there is a problem, which needs to be corrected? Within the late 1980s, and throughout the 1990s, following several decades of argument in society on drug usage, a major campaign erupted throughout society, aimed at targeting young children with a previously unknown ‘disease’ that was plaguing the globe. This disease was known as Attention Deficit Disorder, or later Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Around the globe, this previously unheard of mental disorder was suddenly a major diagnosis in young children. Still what exactly was ADHD and how are its symptoms any different from any other child? A representative from NPR asked this question during a 3-day ADHD conference in Bethesda, MD for the National Institutes of Health in 1998. The question was redirected to Doctor Mark Vonnegut, a panel member of this conference (1), who could not answer this question at all. Following his vain attempt, none of the other panel representatives – who were experts from all over the world – cared to contribute or elaborate. The film footage of this conference, provided by the Documentary Generation RX, provides a disturbing but realistic look at the situation of ADHD as it truly is – a scam. With the creation of this unique mental disorder came the sales of Ritalin – a drug that bears little difference from “speed” – Skyrocketed around the world, but increased in America by 600 percent in the ‘90s. (2). This is one of many similar situations in the psychiatric and mental health field that has arisen within the past 20-30 years.

This same market genius was put in to play in the film Equilibrium with the fusion of this sedated social norm and the twisted societal religion. This religious tone was perfect for the same message; as most religious views also use the same marketing technique to draw followers in. (3). As a result of this highly oppressive religion, constantly infecting and affecting the day-to-day processes in human’s lives, consistent messages of doctrinal propaganda, and promotion of the drug, Prozium in order to correct the society’s apparent disorder of human emotion. A direct quote from the film is as follows:
“Librians – there is a disease in the heart of man. Its symptom is hate. Its symptom is anger. Its symptom is rage. Its symptom is war. The disease is human emotion. But Libria – I congratulate you – for there is a cure for this disease. At cost of the dizzying highs of human emotion, we have suppressed its abysmal lows. And you as a society have embraced this cure. Prozium. Now we are at peace with ourselves and humankind is one. War is gone – hate a memory. We are our own conscience now, and it is this conscience that guides us to raid EC 10 for emotional content - all those things that might tempt us to feel again – and destroy them. Librians! You have won against all odds and your own natures! You have survived!”

These beginning techniques within the film not only introduced the watching audience to the concept of emotion being viewed as a mental health condition, but also introduced the mindset of a larger society that has fallen victim to the fantastic marketing techniques of exposing prior weaknesses and pointing out flaws as evils in order to sell a drug. By implying that a victory can be achieved, the Father has challenged the masses to fight these incredibly normal urges that the mass media attributes to mental illness. The people often give in because they believe in the legitimacy of the science and the spirituality of Prozium, and follow the suggestions of the Father without question of exactly what they are getting in to. This does not stray too terribly far away from current reality and the success of Pharmaceutical Marketing in this time. Even

Robert Whitaker, writer for the Boston Globe, and Pulitzer Prize nominated Journalist believed in what he had heard, and wrote articles about such mental illnesses and treatments in a positive light, until he did further research. (4). “When you go to the actual research, it’s not there!” He said, referring to his study on medications. “…The whole story starts to fall apart. That this whole public story of advancing and understanding the biology of psychiatric disorder – it falls apart so quickly. And what you find in fact, is that the drugs cause chemical imbalances because they perturb normal systems. They block functions of say, dopamine and serotonin, and the brain actually tries to compensate for that. It was exact reverse of what I have written about and been told.” With the mixture of Politics, Religion, and Marketing, Equilibrium created a perfect metaphor of the fraud and the cult-like promotion of ignorant sedation that is slowly starting to pick up pace in the United States.

On the other polar extreme, the film THX 1138 offers a different perspective of this same issue: What COULD happen rather than what is starting. Upon glance of the uniform, sedated culture in this film, which is policed by robots, one must ask: just how did society get to this horrific point? Knowing that at the end of the film, THX is able to walk out into the sunlight, we know that it is safe outside; the world was not destroyed, the question stands why would so many people so willfully conform to the drugged up, degrading society underground? At first, such a willful conformity makes no sense, but using the events of Equilibrium as a hypothetical “past” for George Lucas’ film, the society of THX 1138 begins to make a little more sense. Really, THX takes place in a world that needs no explanation of why

the civilians are here because they already have a well-developed culture – complete with an automatic – hippy- Jesus – therapist telephone booth. This is the only world that most of these people have ever known. However, time has worn down this surveillance state. The glamour of “prozium” has worn thin. Rather than viewed as fantastic and a sacred religious sacrament, the medicines in this film have simply become a norm – no longer mystical but as legally important as paying taxes. Most likely, after years of advancement, using technology to monitor and guide, ideas such as “clerics” and religious ideas became irrelevant and useless. Why rely on a man walking around, tending his “flock” and policing regularly and potentially missing something, when they could monitor your drug usage in the form of pharmacy operators directly from the medicine cabinet? Robots, who could not become corrupted with ideas, became guards rather than humans – who worked every single day – mindlessly and emotionlessly. The institutionalized fear of love and emotion were still prominent in this society – though seen as more perverse and criminal. Over time certain crimes had lesser punishment, though the society was under far more surveillance. This society was wearing thin, due to the lack of individuality to allow advancement, and evidenced as well by the consistent budget concerns. However, money for the paranoid surveillance was generously spent, and, along with that, the medicine-cabinet pharmacists also had increased the dosages of “prozium” to the masses. This emotionless, paranoid, financially unstable society is almost an exact metaphor to the cycle average drug addicts’ strife. Typically when drug users become addicted to a type of drug for a long period of time, the glamour of it fades away, and all that is left is the day to day struggle to find means to support the habit. Ideas that used to matter, like personal appearance and work, do not matter anymore. There is nothing left in the end but

carelessness and paranoia. Even at the end of THX 1138, this carelessness for anything other than the “drug” is displayed. When the society runs out of the fund s to attempt to recover THX, in order to conserve their expensive surveillance society, they had to end the search, even though the Police robots were less than 20 feet away. It was more important for the government to concern itself with staying afloat in the end, and so the robots, rather than doing what they could, simply begged THX to come back, in an almost lazy tone. You could almost feel the decay of the entire society in the entirety of the film. This paranoid, collapsing, near-dead society was the end result of THX 1138, and this most likely would be the end result of Libria in Equalibrium, as referenced by knowledge of historical politics and knowledge of drug addictions.

Although these two examples of sedated societies are very extreme compared to the reality that we experience, it is very important to realize just how close we are to crossing that line. The current trend of that past decade has been a marketing shift to antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines to treat various mood disorders. Eli Lilly actually just lost a major suit for illegal marketing of Olanzapine (an antipsychotic) as off labels, and withholding knowledge of negative side effects (8). Psychiatrist and author Peter R Breggin, M.D., stated warningly on the discussion of antipsychotics and serotonin inhibitors, “Seroquel, Rispredal, Zyprexa, … any one of those other drugs… impair the brain specifically by blocking the transmission to the frontal lobes of the brain. That‘s what makes us love, and hate. It makes us develop prejudice and generous, it makes us think abstractly, it gives us judgment—it’s the human being. When

you give one of these drugs, you reduce the personhood with these drugs even more profoundly than the stimulant drugs. We disable their brains. It’s a chemical lobotomy and that’s not a metaphor. That’s a fact. (7).” If we are not careful, we could fall victim to the slavery of drug addiction, brought about by large institutional control. If we do not find a way to look past the “glamour” of that child-in-a-field “victory over our weaknesses” marketing like that of Equilibrium, we may very well fall into the drug-addicted, paranoid dying world of George Lucas’ THX 1138.

Reference Notes Sources
1. Documentary: Generation RX. Written by Kevin P Miller, Produced by Kevin P. Miller and Charles L. Gilchrist, Executive Producer Johnathan Lindsay. 2008. (Notes)
(1) Film Footage: (26:53 – 29:51) (2) U.S. DOJ DEA Methylphenidate (A background Paper) October 1995, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, Office of Diversion Control (26:14) (4) Robert Whittaker, Interview. (6:20) (5) Lisa Cosgrove, Interview … article also in New York Times (7) Peter R. Bregen, M.D., Interview (15:02)

2. (3) Higginbotham, Joyce and River. Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions. Llewellyn Publications. Woodbury, Minnesota. 2002. P. 2-3.* 3. (6) Eli Lilly Pays Record Fines of $1.4bn for Promoting Off-Label Use of Olanzapine for Common Disorders. Zosia Kmietowicz . BMJ: British Medical Journal , Vol. 338, No. 7688 (Jan. 24, 2009), p. 191. Published by: BMJ Publishing Group. Article Stable URL:

*This book, while citing an opinion of the authors, is considered to be one of the best introductory books to Paganism, and is almost considered to be an important textbook. Many big names in the Pagan community have expressed positive commentary about this book and have recommended it to beginners as an introductory text to familiarize themselves with Pagan views and philosophies before jumping into it. I felt that, the quote in question, especially in the context that it was used, was an excellent addition to this paper, as, in my opinion, it is very accurate.