Lack of empathy available over the counter?

Have you noticed an increase in social unrest and negative feelings being expressed daily in more and more public arenas such as political campaigns?Of course you have; who hasn’t? Civility is declining and we all see it every day but many people only really recognized it dating from the beginning of the U.S. Presidential campaign less than a year ago.

That was when Mr. Trump, who has never held any elected office, began his campaign, ridiculing a disabled reporter, suggesting that a certain female reporter was being nasty to him because it was her time of the month, repeatedly telling his supporters at rallies to knock out a non-violent protester, kicking a Muslim woman out of a rally simply because of her dress -- the list goes on.

Obviously what he has done is tap into a core of some major discontent.But now there is evidence that the lack of civility may be due in large part to a simple pain reliever.Simply put, a study, just published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, indicated that student volunteers showed less concern over other people’s pain when they had taken Tylenol.Another study at OSU demonstrated that acetaminophen intake also blunts positive emotions such as joy.

This finding, although not new, is so important because each week nearly one-quarter of Americans take something that includes acetaminophen, and empathy is a civilizing influence -- you may know it as The Golden Rule -- “do unto others, etc.”Because hundreds, perhaps a thousand, medicines include acetaminophen as one of their many ingredients, that means that perhaps up to a billion people in the world are experiencing a lack of empathy as well as being unable to feel what the study termed as “joy.”

The Ohio study was solidly scientific using a placebo and double-blind procedure where one group got the Tylenol and the other got a sugar pill.

They were then asked questions to determine how they reacted to seeing or hearing about people in physical or social pain.

The results were clear and not unexpected because some earlier studies reached similar conclusions.