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The Philosophy of Medication -- When Escapism Should Be Prioritized

Updated: Mar 24

a group of men in a lab.

Ms. Tamara Moskal's Synopsis

Taking medication for mental health conditions is most effective when combined with therapy, meditation, and a healthy lifestyle. Mental illness can be a significant disability, yet it is often not recognized by society as such. Admitting to a mental problem and asking for help is a sign of strength and the first step to improving your life and the lives of people around you. In many cases, managing mental health conditions with prescription drugs is the most beneficial and should not be stigmatized or seen as a weakness.


The Quick, Insufficient Fix

It can be easy to see medication as a quick and easy escape from problems. There are pills for nearly everything these days: trouble focusing, low libido, anxiety, and the list goes on. However, this approach to mental health can be superficial.

While medication can be a valuable tool, it shouldn't be the only solution, nor the most effective one necessarily. Therapy, meditation, exercise, and a healthier lifestyle can all be effective in handling the root causes of mental health issues.

Medication should ideally be used to supplement these approaches, not replace them. That's especially true when some of these medications are capable of making you tired during the day. And then what? You're just going to accept your fatigue when it can be reduced through other means, other than reducing the pills themselves? This goes to show that medication alone isn't enough.

Ultimately, there's no such thing as a simple fix for mental well-being. It takes work and a multifaceted approach to find solutions that are sustainable and effective. I personally use logic to make better sense of the world, thus overcoming what I perceive as my default irrationality. As such, philosophizing could be used as a calming tool, one that affirms the notion that this reality makes sense.

It's something that medications don't necessarily do.

The Invisible Disability

Many people view medication for mental health as a crutch, a shortcut to avoid dealing with problems, and thus, a weakness. However, what they fail to understand is the critical role these medications play for some individuals.

And this critical role wouldn't been a feature if strength was only expressed in independence. However, strength is also found in being able to admit that one needs help. It requires strength because admitting one's vulnerabilities is no easy feat, and may entail strength-related virtues such as courage, honesty and being able to cooperate. Of course, being lended the strength of others can increase your own strength.

Mental illness can be a significant disability, just as real and impactful as a physical one. While the tools used may differ – a cane for someone with a mobility issue, medication for someone with a chemical imbalance in the brain – the need for assistance remains the same.

And the need to admit of this need in the first place is what can enable our growth towards greater development in life. For without medication, many people wouldn't make it to the positions they are in life. As such, the need to escape from the self is a justified form of escapism when doing so benefits both yourself and those around you. The need for external substances of such kind is underscored even further when we have the human right for health. Requesting such helpful substance is therefore a fight for our right for health.

My own situation exemplifies this. My mental health condition prevents me from working regularly and supporting myself abroad. The last time I worked orthodoxically, as an office clerk in 2018, led to my eventual, eerie decline both physically and mentally. I recovered from that myself. However, without medication, I wouldn't been able to successfully recover myself from that nightmarish period.

Just as someone with a physical disability may be limited in travel, so am I – a disability unseen, yet undeniably present. It is only denied by those who have no intention considering making this world more accessible to neurodivergent folk.

The reality is, medication can be a lifeline. For some, it may be the easiest, most accessible way to manage their condition. The alternative might be intensive therapy, a lengthy hospitalization, or worse. To quote a research paper:

For millennia, society did not treat persons suffering from depression, autism, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses much better than slaves or criminals: they were imprisoned, tortured or killed.

In the face of impairing mental illness, the "easy way" shouldn't be dismissed. Occam's Razor justifies the usage of medication because all you need to do is to be able to afford it and/or get a prescription. The potential to avoid immense suffering outweighs the concerns about long-term dependence. Living with a manageable condition through medication is far preferable to the constant struggle or the risk of self-harm.

Taking medication for mental health shouldn't be a source of shame. It's a tool, just as vital as a cane, a wheelchair, or sign language. It empowers individuals to navigate their world and be able to participate in life, to various extents, like anyone else. With the right tools, individuals can even thrive, and contribute further to society, to themselves, and even to people who depend upon them, like children.

Recognizing Mental Illness as a Disability

Society often associates disability with visible limitations – wheelchairs, canes, or service animals. However, mental illness can be just as debilitating, impacting daily life in worrying ways. Medication, for some, becomes the invisible crutch they need to navigate the world.

This unseen limitation is no less real, and proves to us that concepts don't need to be seen or recognized in any way for them to exist in the real world and influence it as well. As such, the fact that atoms weren't largely recognized beyond philosophers such as Democritus, do not cancel the fact that the universe was always comprised of atoms. It's just like humans in general always suffered from mental health issues, recognized or not.

(Even Plato addressed it. He believed that the ideal city, as portrayed in his "Republic", would be able eradicate "diseases of the soul" through a system of legistlation).

The choice between medication and alternatives like intensive therapy or hospitalization isn't always a simple one. Medication might be the most accessible and effective path to manage a mental health condition, offering relief from debilitating symptoms. Being hospitalized, on the other hand, can come with far more stigma.

Taking Charge of Your Well-being

Consider this: wouldn't you wear noise-canceling headphones to block out a disruptive neighbor? Medication can be a similar form of active mental health care.

If your emotional state could deteriorate due to external factors, explore whether medication can act as a shield. Without it, you might be left with two unappealing options: react poorly or retreat entirely.

Medication, when possible, offers a chance to manage your mental health and navigate challenges without compromising your well-being. In the battle for emotional stability, sometimes the "enemy" is internal.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

There exists a difference in people’s idea of what needs are. Do you need a pill to help you out with a serious symptom of a mental illness or do you need it because you don’t want to deal with the problem?
Being disabled is a relative term. To determine if one is disabled, take a little bit to map out everything you need to do for the week. If your condition gets in the way of you doing any of it then you most likely can classify yourself as disabled. In most cases this is what medication was designed for. To help you use escapism to your advantage by getting rid of any of the bad symptoms.
One must ultimately consider the benefits of taking the easy choice. Can one who picks this option not use it as a means to be able to do more good for other people? [Medication spares you] the focus and energy it takes to manage [your disability] yourself.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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