The confidence and security of a people can be measured by their attitude toward laxatives. At the high noon of the British sun, soldiers in far-flung outposts of the Empire doctored themselves with "a spoonful o' gunpowder in a cuppa 'ot tea." Purveyors and users of harsh laxatives were not afraid of being thought mean and unfriendly just because their laxatives were. But in America, the need to be nice is so consuming that nobody would dare take a laxative that makes you run up the stairs two at a time, pushing others aside and yelling, "Get out of the way!
Another intruder that plagues our good health is sleeplessness. Insomnia is much like constipation in that stress or nervous tension can bring it on or aggravate it until there's almost no coping with it. That's why you find sleeping pills in so many medicine cabinets next to the laxatives.
The Americans are violently oral. That's why in America the mother is all-important and the father has no position at all -- isn't respected in the least. Even the American passion for laxatives can be explained as an oral manifestation. They want to get rid of any unpleasantness taken in through the mouth.
W. H. Auden
Unlike modern pills, these hard antimony pills didn't dissolve in the intestines, and the pills were considered so valuable that people rooted through fecal matter to retrieve and reuse them. Some lucky families even passed down laxatives from father to son. Perhaps for this reason, antimony found heavy work as a medicine, although it's actually toxic. Mozart probably died from taking too much to combat a severe fever.
We have the whitest kitchens and the most shining bathrooms in the world. But in the lovely white kitchen the average [person] can't produce a meal fit to eat, and the lovely shining bathroom is mostly a receptacle for deodorants, laxatives, sleeping pills, and the products of that confidence racket called the cosmetic industry. We make the finest packages in the world, Mr Marlowe. The stuff inside is mostly junk." ""
Before drifting away entirely, he found himself reflecting-not for the first time-on the peculiarity of adults. Thet took laxatives, liquor, or sleeping pills to drive away their terrors so that sleep would come, and their terrors were so tame and domestic: the job, the money, what the teacher will think if I can't get Jennie nicer clothes, does my wife still love me, who are my friends. They were pallid compared to the fears every child lies cheek and jowl with in his dark bed, with no one to confess to in hope of perfect understanding but another child. There is no group therapy or psychiatry or community social services for the child who must cope with the thing under the bed or in the cellar every night, the thing which leers and capers and threatens just beyond the point where vision will reach. The same lonely battle must be fought night after night and the only cure is the eventual ossification of the imaginary faculties, and this is called adulthood.