I have a problem with people (or organizations, or whomever) that I tend to think of as alarmists. I'm talking about the kinds of people who, if you have a headache, will say something delightful and cheery like, "You know, my Aunt Bertha had a headache once. Turned out to be a stroke. Died four days later. Sad, sad, story. You should probably go and have an MRI just to make sure." Umm, no. What made me think of this is a commercial I saw on tv a couple of times today. The voice-over person asks if you ever find yourself crying. Or going into fits of laughter. Yes, and yes. Hey, as much as I try to deny it, under this crusty exterior lies a heart full of tender, marshmallowy sympathy and emotion. Combine that with a wicked-delicious sense of humor, and of course I have times when I laugh myself silly (even 'til there are tears streaming down my face, uh-oh!), and other times when a sentimental commercial can make me bawl.
Well, according to this advertisement, if you have fits of laughter or tears, you should "call it what it really is." Oh, okay, living life with your feelings in the ON position? Nope, my friends, they gave it some term that they shortened into initials which I have since intentionally forgotten. Because if you cry or laugh, you probably have XYZ syndrome, which is a result of brain damage or a neurological condition. I realize that I am oversimplifying things. I know that if someone is walking down the street and bursts into uncontrollable, debilitating sobs, or starts screaming with hysterical laughter, they may have a genuine problem. But I also have to wonder how many people freak out when they see ads that tend toward fear-mongering.
I know that there were definitely viewers who saw the ad today and immediately sent for the free information packet. Some of them may be, well, hypochondriacs who see every set of symptoms as their own, and become immediately convinced that they have anything from rabies to rheumatoid arthritis and everything in between. Of course, these people have their own unique set of problems, to say nothing of the friends and relatives who have an incredible urge to throttle them so that they can quit hearing about the disease du jour. The ones I worry about are the people who see these ads and start to worry about their behavior. They think about how they saw a sad movie and kept thinking about it, and cried for an hour. Or how they were in the middle of a business meeting and had an attack of the giggles over something that made the boss mad, but that they thought was hysterically funny. They begin to worry that maybe they are not normal. Maybe they are crazy, or have brain damage. And the truth is that the most normal people I know have times when something affects them and makes them cry or laugh, and quite intensely.
I know this isn't the only ad that could possibly cause people to question their symptoms. Heck, there are commercials that suggest that if you know where the bathroom is everywhere you go, then you must need medication to control your overactive bladder. And all this time, I thought that I just knew where all of them were because I take medicine that makes me tinkle a lot! Oh! I bet if I wait and watch long enough, there will be a commercial that tells me the name of whatever ailment it is that makes me the Raving Lunatic! And what medication to take for it! I hope that the treatment plan involves chocolate...