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What is Soma?

Teachable Moment


Soma is a fictional drug imagined by writer Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World published in 1932. In the novel, Soma is freely available to everyone and is a recreational drug with no unpleasant side effects. However, it is addictive. It is provided in doses that give a sense of calm and happiness or that produce a pleasant hallucinatory effect called a “holiday,” where users drop out of society for a few hours and dream, forgetting all of their worries. Soma comes in tablets for casual use during the day, powder form that can be sprinkled on food such as ice cream, and aerosol used by police to calm a group of people.

In Huxley’s fictional universe, Soma is a form of escapism that is socially and politically sanctioned and strongly encouraged. The government does not want its citizens to question its system, and Soma makes maintaining societal order easier. It is used to manipulate and control the population.

According to sociologists, Huxley envisioned an accurate future of America, a population addicted to designer drugs. He predicted how many people today rely on prescription drugs to function daily. The 1979 nonfiction book The Tranquilizing of America by Richard Hughes states that pharmaceutical companies “created what Aldous Huxley envisioned in Brave New World. They have given us Soma, and it is called Valium.”

Today the misuse of pharmaceutical drugs has reached epidemic proportions in America, and U.S. Vital Statistics from the CDC show the nation’s growing prescription drug problem. “This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more deaths than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979. These drugs kill more people than fire arms and other violent acts.”

Recent Death Notices