Proverb – Spain

“Es peor el remedio que la enfermedad.”

“Is worse the remedy than the sickness”

“Fixing things just makes them worse”

Analysis: Frank first learned this proverb from his mother when he was around the age of fourteen.  His mother, Alejandra, was born in Spain and usually speaks Spanish at home.  Frank said that she frequently uses Spanish phrases or proverbs to give Frank advice, even though she has lived in California for over half of her life.

Frank said the first time he heard his mom use this proverb was when Frank was trying to fix his cell phone.  The phone made a strange humming sound that Frank thought he could fix by taking the phone apart, but he ended up completely breaking it.  Frank’s mom used the proverb to say that even though Frank was trying to get rid of the annoying humming and fix the phone, he ultimately made things worse by completely ruining the phone.  Although the humming sound was annoying, if Frank would not have tried to fix the phone, he would still have been able to use it.

I have often heard people complain about attempting to fix a problem and instead making it worse, but I had not heard the concept expressed as a proverb before.  Frank said that his mother was strongly attached to her Spanish upbringing and tried to teach Frank and his younger siblings about Spanish culture as much as possible.  So, perhaps this proverb was another way for Frank’s mom to teach Frank about Spanish culture and sayings, and at the same time advise him that sometimes things are best left alone.

When Frank has used this proverb, he often shortens the phrase to “Es peor el remedio” (the remedy is worse).  This is more informal than using the full proverb, but still means the same thing- fixing things can make problems worse.  It is possible that age is an influential factor in determining how the proverb is said; since Alejandra is an adult, she is more likely to use a traditional, formal proverb, while Frank, a teenager, is more comfortable using a shorter version.