The mouth eats out of the heart

Demand for drugs to cure spiritual problems suggests we have got the whole thing backwards. The post Out of the Heart, the Mouth Eats appeared first on The American Conservative.

The same drug that was available last month is now on the market. According to reports, Ozempic, the diabetes drug turned weight loss injection that women love to inject into their thighs, appears to have unintended effects on other compulsive behavior, including nail biting and skin picking. The pharmaceutical companies who produce the drug have now studied the potential of its off-brand usage: addiction control.

Although the addictions are mild, they do exist. While initial studies suggest that semaglutide is a good drug to use for addictions, regular users have reported a reduction in compulsive behavior since some time. One woman who took semaglutide told the Atlantic that “her food thoughts calmed down.” She lost weight. She was surprised to find out that when she left Target, her cart only contained the four items she had intended to purchase. “I’ve never done it before,” she said.


Other behaviors cited include drinking, smoking, nail biting and skin picking. The list includes drinking, smoking and buying lottery tickets. Noteably absent: mindless internet scrolling. The small but destructive behaviors are less harmful than hard drugs, yet they are so damaging that many women and men ask their employers to pay the insurance bills associated with the new panacea.

This impulse control is hylomorphic, which makes sense for those who, like the ancients believed, believe that spirit and body are one integrated whole. Each acts on the other. Semaglutide suppresses the physical desire for food and drinks, but also the appetites that are spiritual. Ozempic mimics a hormone known as glucagon like peptide 1 (GLP-1) to cause the pancreas release insulin. Research and anecdotal reports suggest that GLP-1 affects the pathways of dopamine in the brain. These are the physical mechanisms by which humans process spiritual concepts such as pleasure and reward. reports that “These drugs work at the level of both the brain and the gut, suggesting they can suppress the desire for other things as well.” Ozempic numbs the mind and purges the body. We discover that we are more than just souls.

In 2023, it is easy to understand why a drug which causes weight loss is so popular in America. A culture that seeks a cure even for the smallest addictions like compulsive buying and obsessive food consumption is telling us more about its own self. It is not suffering from a lack, but rather from excess. We are so accustomed to pleasure-satisfying behaviors that we barely even get out of bed anymore. (Or to bed for that matter.

What fuels this overstimulation of the brain? This list may be shorter to focus on what’s not causing it. The marketing industry is constantly hounding us to do more and buy more in order to afford to live the extravagant lifestyle they are selling. Social media is a constant clattering gong that fills us up with desires and jealousies. These are all shoppable from body types, to outfits, to diversity, to even the very nature of our bodies. After a feast of physical stimuli we turn to the news media to feed our minds with stories that label us as “smart”, for being outraged and consuming more. The final touch is what Mary Harrington called “all you can eat lust” which is present in each of these realms. Politesse forces us to pretend that we don’t see it.

Ozempic’s popularity is not the only sign of oversaturation. Microtrends like internet free phones and hobby Homesteading show that Americans are seeking other ways to escape the noise. All of this is underpinned by a one-dimensional view of human nature, which says that it’s driven solely by desire. We have bought into this, even though we knew better. After consuming these desires, and becoming sick, we search for an antiacid that will help our body while also restoring our spirits.


Men and women who are clamoring for semaglutide aren’t just looking for a simple weight loss program. They are also seeking this. They also want, even if they don’t realize it, the primal desire to be rid of desire. This is, in short, a cry for assistance.

The problem is that most Americans have given in to the idea of self-mastery. One Ozempic patient, who has struggled to maintain a healthy body weight for over 30 years, said that it was “incredibly validating” to learn that her struggles were a result of biology and not willpower. Another Ozempic customer called the drug a “huge relief” after years of struggling to eat moderately. The reporter writes that “the drug was able to curb behaviors which had become unhealthy.”

It’s possible that we have the idea of medicine being able to solve spiritual problems, but it may be completely wrong. C. S. Lewis thought so. In The Abolition of Man he compared applied science to magic, in that it tries to “subdue the reality to men’s wishes.” He argued against this, “the wisdom from earlier ages.”

He wrote: “For wise men in the past, the problem was how to adapt the soul to the reality. The solution was knowledge, self-discipline and virtue.” These antacids may be more beneficial to the body than a mind-numbing medication.

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