Between 1880 and 1920 Pink Pills, a medication for blood and nerve strengthening, were heavily advertised in Dutch newspapers. The advertisements consisted of the personal stories of patients who had been amazingly healed. This article argues that the Pink Pill advertisements contributed to the ‘psychologizing’ of society. The advertisements created an imaginary community of people suffering from nervous disorders with whom the readers could identify. Initially, the Pink Pill advertisements highlighted somatic explanations for the correlation between weak nerves and ‘thin blood’. After 1910 the advertisements placed ever more emphasis on the personality traits of those with nervous disorders. Furthermore, causes were mentioned, such as considerable work pressure. It is notable that such external causes of the disorders were particularly sought for male sufferers, whereas for female sufferers the cause continued to be attributed to them being the ‘weaker sex’. In this way the Pink Pills promoted awareness about female and male sufferers of nervous disorders.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Blok, Gemma, & Spijkerman, Rose. (2013). ‘De ongelukkigsten onder de menschen’: De Verbeelding van zenuwzwakte in advertenties voor Pink pillen, 1900-1920. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 16(1), 46–62. doi:10.18146/tmg.259