Essay: In The Land of Barry and the Pilots

Two patients lie in the emergency room, beset by mysterious pains. When the ) doctor arrives, one patient asks, "What's wrong with me?" The other patient, who is an addict, pleads only, "Can you give me something for the pain?" The two questions come from different universes.

The U.S. has got into the habit of responding to its crises by lurching into emergency rooms and pleading for the painkiller first. Some important part of the American mind has gone over into a territory of denial and evasion.

Once the avoidance begins to work, the patient cares less about the diagnosis. Fear...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!