Soma: two parts fun, one part numb

I couldn’t help but think about the role of soma throughout the entire work and compare our current pharmaceutical trends in the 21st century. Huxley created the cure all of sadness, quelling the anxieties, fears, as well as the rebellious nature of man. Yes, it was sedating and repressive, but also pleasurable – so how do we distinguish between which aspects of Brave New World‘s drug and pleasure based culture are dystopic, which we have realized, and which are okay and acceptable?

To view it from one perspective, a huge portion of the American population is on a mood altering drugs. The CDC reports 11% of the population is on antidepressants, and overall 20% of Americans are on some form of mood changing prescription . What if we are nearing a point of no return – are we hiding our demons under floods of serotonin in the brain? But the counter point, who is one person to decide that another can’t take a Xanax after the death of their mother. If the man on the ledge can be truly helped by the soma of the 21st century, who are we to stop them.

So we get into this uncomfortable region – what to do? Only the individual who is suffering truly knows what will make the pain stop, but at what point to we risk sedating society. I think the tipping point comes when there is a transition from a sedation of pain to a mass and collective numbness to the world. What I mean, is that when the sedation leaves the realm of emotional aide and begins to effect politics, then we have an issue………

But has it? The lobbying of Big Pharma has put the industry in the power seat. Drugs are introduced to the public that are instantly called back. Causing horrible side effects, at what point do we reign it the pharmaceutical usage in this country? Yet, how could we ever tell a grieving mother that she can’t have anti-depressant after the death of her son? Do you all know where the line is? because I’m having a slightly hard time defining where it should be, and we only are traveling a path of increased usage….

And then there is sex. What role does sex play in our society and what role should it play. Obviously while the last hundred years have advanced towards more sexual freedoms and a much more liberal view of sex in America, should it be comparable to a drug? Personally, I don’t think so, and this was an aspect of Brave New World that I think was a bit antiquated: aligning sex with a sedating drug. I think the overall advance of american perspective on sex, transitioning away from it’s old taboo nature, changing form into what sex really is, a natural part of life and the collective human experience, is good. On the molecular level, sex is a stimulant, and good for the body, boosting the immune system, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and interpersonal interaction. I think when Huxley wrote the novel, the worldwide attitude toward sex was to treat it as taboo. The world has changed. Sex is no longer the negatively connoted soma, but something entirely different.



~ by maxhkushner0 on January 26, 2014.

3 Responses to “Soma: two parts fun, one part numb”

  1. I really like that you brought up Huxley’s treatment of sex. It did seem to me that sex was almost vilified in the text – or, at least, it was treated the same way as soma. Throughout the novel, sex was almost absurdly common and required to keep functioning as a part of this new society. It even permeates films in the ‘feelies’. However, exactly as you brought up, the world has changed. No longer are we constrained to women as virgins until marriage or even heterosexual sex alone. Sex, while seeming to be more free than even today, was more restrictive than ever in the novel. The world has changed, and Huxley’s treatment of this particular part of life is antiquated and even repressive.

    • I’m not sure that I understand your comment. How has Huxley vilified sex in the novel? In fact, I think he has normalized it. In society today, I think that sex is more vilified than in the society of Brave New World. It is in today’s society, the society that values sexual purity, virginity, and “innocence”, that we look down upon women that are sexually active. How can the sex be considered restrictive when there are literally no boundaries set? Unless you mean to say that it is restrictive and repressive because it does not allow for monogamy or time alone. Either way, I agree that Max raises interesting points about the idea of how access pleasures have been taken to the extreme in Huxley’s dystopian vision.

  2. Previously, we’ve connected Soma to opium and alcohol. By connecting to to mood altering drugs on the market today, you bring up a much more interesting dilemma. The possibility of a completely drug controlled consciousness is much more feasible now than in Huxley’s time. I like your examples of the ethical dilemma behind controlling mood altering drugs. If someone is distraught, is it the pharmaceutical industry’s place to deprive them of relief? This could lead to the scenarios we see with Soma – taking some for any small stress or anxiety, and a numb society.

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