Warning: This column may cause ‘ideation’
“Wyeth Co. adds “homicidal ideation” to Effexior’s effects”If this looks familiar, then it’s because it was the headline for a wire-service story that appeared in The Aspen Times on July 10. I guess this is why I enjoy writing, because words are so cool.In this case, the side effect “homicidal ideation” relates to convicted murderer Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children. It seems that she had been taking the antidepressant “Effexior” at the time. It is thought that the drug might have been a contributing factor, hence the warning. Somehow we are supposed to feel that we better understand this unimaginable act because the act has been identified as a possible side effect, and assigned this new term “homicidal ideation”.This reminds me of when scientists, who are supposed to know why stuff happens but don’t, use the word “anomaly” to describe an inexplicable event or result. It’s as if they’ll seem less ignorant if they give their lack of understanding a name.As far as drowning five kids goes, I always felt that Andrea Yates should have focused her homicidal ideation on the husband who kept knocking her up, even after it became clear that she was prone to postpartum depression and was pretty much crazy as a loon on top of that. I suspect doing him in would have been OK with me. Too late now.The speculation that the drug Effexior had something to do with her mood must have had merit, because the manufacturer added a warning to the label – to page 36 of the label. How many of you guys read a 36-page label? I guess maybe we should; 19 million prescriptions for that particular product were filled last year. Unfortunately, people don’t seem to pay attention to the warning label on the side of their cigarette package, so I don’t suppose that a page-36 warning about a “murderous thoughts” side effect really made much difference. Side effects: Death, murder? What side effects?It has occurred to me, though, that even if people don’t pay attention, the idea of a “homicidal ideation” warning label might be a pretty good one.The Aspen businesses that rent bicycles to tourists could attach a label to their bikes that says ” WARNING: Homicidal Ideation could result from riding three abreast down the middle of the road when motorists, who aren’t on vacation, are trying to get where they’re going.”Cell-phone manufacturers could put a label on their phones that says “WARNING: Homicidal Ideation can occur when used in public places at the wrong time, and while driving 20 mph below the speed limit.”The Woody Creek Tavern could print a little message on the bottom of its menu, “WARNING: Rude behavior could result in Homicidal Ideation on the part of the staff and locals.” There could be bumper stickers “Excuse me, following too closely could result in homicidal ideation.”When President Bush speaks on television a message could crawl across the bottom of the screen: “WARNING: Statements contained in the following speech could result in viewer Homicidal Ideation.”There’s a lot of “Homicidal Ideation” in the world, and I’m responsible for my fair share of it.Of course there are other kinds of ideation, all kinds. Makers of swimwear and lingerie could include a warning label indicating that “use of this product may lead to Sexual Ideation.” This goes double for the kind of movies that we don’t display on the bookshelf next to “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca.” Might boost sales.Liquor bottles could say “Stupid Ideation may result” on the side.Maybe we should be warned against any kind of ideation. Books by John Irving, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, T.C. Boyle and James Salter should contain an admonition “Consumption of material within could result in Ideation.” Young people could take the warning to their God-fearing, Bush-loving parents and get a complete bye on having to read that sort of dangerous trash.People often say that money, or this or that, is the root of all evil. I’m thinking that this new ideation stuff may be the real culprit. After all, a lot of ideation went into many of the evils of the world: Nazism, fascism, almost anything that ends with “ism.” A lot of ideation has been responsible for “religions gone wild” in current events and historically. I think it’s clear that people have been doing far too much ideating all along, it just took a euphemizing drug company to give it a name.Well, all this ideation is giving me a little headache so I’m going to take off my ideation cap and go down to the Tavern for a cold one. If you don’t want to get a headache, too, then you might want to ignore this whole column. After all, what do I know? I’m still trying to figure out when signs became “signage.”
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