“The best physician is also a philosopher.” – Galen

Last time we culled psychotropic agents seeking possible aids in contentment and settled on SSRIs and SNRIs4 as the most suitable choices. Now we must ascertain whether even they are acceptable adjuncts to philosophical and psychological contentment or for that matter whether any chemical-induced tranquility, even when enduring, is appropriate to our notion of contentment. The positions as I see it comes down to the following:

For: (1) They correct a chemical imbalance not otherwise remediable which others may not face and which is essential for the philosophical pursuit of happiness. (2) They enhance function leading to greater hope of meaningful purpose. (3) Science is utilized in other areas of philosophy such as the understanding of reality. (4) Any non-addictive means to mental equilibrium shy of illusion or apathy is intellectually justified in the pursuit of the meaningful life. (5) They facilitate a greater capacity for focus on philosophical study and contemplation essential to contentment itself.

Against: (1) Chemical contentment is artificial by definition and unsustainable with discontinuation of the medication. (2) Calm from medication is or can be induced without an associated philosophical understanding and thus threatens recognition of ‘true’ contentment. (3) Science is fine to enhance the understanding of reality and for the improvement of life, but not as a means to bypass philosophical discipline. (4) It is impossible for us to know whether any chemical induction of equanimity and happiness is not a mere illusion. (5) It may be the case that they are psychologically addictive. (6) Non-chemical efforts (such as contemplation or meditation) to contentment are vital to extract the full value of contentment on the road to a meaningful life.

The arguments are about equally valid and neither is entirely convincing so at the end of the day, this seems to be a personal decision. In truth I can see no reason why a non-addictive agent facilitating calm is fraudulent per se, yet I suspect most of us want to achieve contentment naturally or ‘on our own.’ That certainly has been my feeling. Should you feel differently, I see no definitive downside to a trial, and you may want to check with your physician. He or she likely knows the struggle you are experiencing.


4 SSRIs refers to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and especially escitalopram (Lexapro) and SNRIs refers to serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).


  1. I think that is right. The best doctor I ever had was a DO. His watchword, when it came to health? It is all connected.

    1. Paul,

      Glad you are still following.
      Also glad to hear you have had good experience with your personal physician.
      Did you have a chance to read my posts on the essay by Fr. Anaias Sorem.
      Any comments?



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