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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Sociopolitical Pills

My aim in regards to writing difficult blog content

Lately, I’ve written about some pretty heavy content related to sociopolitical topics. Advocating acknowledgement of how little control and influence people actually have over most matters in life, it’s been my objective to promote the practice of personal responsibility and accountability.

Unlike some other psychotherapeutic modalities, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) isn’t categorically focused on changing the world. Rather, practitioners of this technique assist clients with disputation of irrational beliefs as a means of reducing self-disturbance.

This practice requires tolerance and acceptance of discomfort. Therefore, I write about war, global pandemics, suicide, and other unpleasant topics to provide the reader with pragmatic scenarios for which REBT may be of use.

Underlying many of these issues is information correlated with social and political factors. Though you may not be able to change extrinsic elements experienced in life, you can alter your beliefs about occurrences and thus affect your reaction to unhelpful assumptions regarding these events.

As such, my aim in regards to writing difficult blog content is not to help the reader feel better about discomforting situations, though to get better through use of REBT techniques. Not a substitute for psychotherapy, my blog is intended for use to educate and, if possible, entertain the reader in relation to REBT.

Sociopolitical pills

Online, within social media platforms, and elsewhere, some people use a metaphor concerning various social and political matters as it relates to taking various pills. Though the terminology is ever-changing, I present some common references to this sort of symbolism.

The most popular pill-themed attribution relates to the 1999 film The Matrix, in which the protagonist is offered a choice between taking a red versus a blue pill. Regarding this dichotomy, one source states:

The red pill and blue pill represent a choice between the willingness to learn a potentially unsettling or life-changing truth by taking the red pill or remaining in the contented experience of ordinary reality with the blue pill.

Per my understanding of this terminology, willful ignorance and rejection of truth are products of the blue pill. Want to intentionally avoid reality by way of escapism when it comes to suffering inherent in life? Pop a blue pill.

On the other hand, if you want to face the unpleasant true nature of existence—similar to the concept of awakening from one’s slumber—take the red pill. For the remaining pills discussed herein, all capsules stem from red pill awareness.

Whereas the blue pill relates to nonparticipation with the facts of existence, and the red pill represents being based in reality, one source states that the black pill “represents nihilism, or a realization that the system is too far gone to change. The powers that govern our lives are too deeply entrenched and too powerful to do anything about.”

Although I agree with most of this description, I’d suggest that the black pill relates more to fatalism than nihilism. In this regard, I think a nihilistic person would say something like, “This is a meaningless situation.”

Conversely, a fatalistic person may declare, “Because this is hopeless situation, let’s burn this motherfucker down!” Black-pilled individuals may be referred to as “doomers,” because the black pill is also called a “doom pill.”

Conversely, and according to one source, “The white pill refers to an optimistic worldview in the face of adversity.” However, this perspective is a bit shortsighted. A separate source describes the white pill as:

The moment or series of events by which a person abandons despair and surrenders to the inevitability of hope; not out of sheer optimism, but from facing difficulty and nihilism head-on through the use of reason and inquiry. It is the final destination of those who are redpilled and blackpilled, and tends to happen when a person becomes cynical of cynicism, and skeptical of skepticism. It is named after the white-hot fire of hope in a pill form, and is medicine for the soul.

Whereas mere optimism suggests hope that a specific endeavor will be positive, favorable, or desirable, a white-pilled individual uses logic and reason as an antidote to despair. In general, I suspect most of the field of mental, emotional, and behavioral health care represents white pill symbolism.

Noteworthy, the Anti-Defamation League maintains a list of various other pills. Yet, I remain skeptical of the organization’s characterization of a great many topics. Nonetheless, I appreciate having a referential source concerning the changing nature of pill metaphors.

I think the last pill worth describing herein is the clown pill, which one source describes as a “metaphor for the ‘red pill,’ that means to see the world as the joke that it really is.” This pill relates to absurdism proffered by the likes of Albert Camus and Søren Kierkegaard.

Those with whom I’ve worked in a psychotherapeutic setting have likely encountered absurdist techniques such as paradoxical intervention—a technique designed to eliminate undesirable behavior by encouraging the undesirable behavior (e.g., shame attacking exercise).

Whereas the instillation of hope may be one objective of psychotherapeutic practice, I also value a moderate dose of clown-pilled delivery when working with clients. Albert Ellis, originator of REBT, seemed to also have valued use of humor—or dare I suggest absurdity—when working with clients.


Herein, I’ve briefly addressed red (awakened), blue (avoidance), black (doom), white (hope), and clown (absurd) pills. Although there are other remedies, whichever capsule you choose to take may significantly impact your worldview.

Ultimately, you are personally responsible and accountable for your reaction to events. Likewise, you have exceedingly little control or influence regarding most of these matters.

Worth note, there was a time in my life when two people who I loved dearly, individuals who didn’t know one another, voiced similar admissions to one another. Collectively, the statement was, “If I saw the world as you do, I’d kill myself.”

Back then, I was on a steady diet of black pills. Now, and due in large part to my practice of REBT in personal and professional capacities, I ingest white and clown pills.

Within my blog, I address unpleasant sociopolitical content. I do this as a means of reminding myself of a need for unconditional acceptance, all while attempting to educate and entertain the reader.

Mostly, as has been relayed to me by several people, I miss the mark when trying to accomplish the latter. As for the former, it is through my unrestricted acknowledgment of the fact that I’m an unpolished writer which allows me to laugh at myself and retain hope for whatever comes next.

How about you, dear reader, which pills are you ingesting? Is there perhaps another option that you typically swallow that upsets you? Might you be taking the brown pill?

If so, I help people with recognizing what a shouldy (shitty) option that is so that they may make healthier choices for the future. If you’d like to know more about how I do this, I’m willing to help.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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