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Sept 30, 1968


JAMA. 1968;206(1):124-125. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150010072020

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We laugh only at that which seriously concerns us in our daily lives. We do not jest about the Pope—so says G. K. Chesterton—because he is not importantly involved in our routine activities. By contrast, we never tire of joking about our mother-in-law because she is a serious, crushingly important daily presence. And even though the pontiff's immunity to popular humor remains secure despite his recent close brush with the quotidian, proliferating jokes and movie farces about the contraceptive pill support the Chestertonian paradox. The pill is serious business.

A particularly serious matter to the clinician, the contraceptive pill is unlike any other drug that he prescribes. Not only does it cast him into an unfamiliar role of preventing a natural creative process rather than a disease, but it places him at the mercy of directors who are not always in agreement on how the play is to be enacted.