Neuroenhancement: Will Your Life/Career Require It?

Reporter Margaret Talbot (in a New Yorker article – due out Monday) explores the underground world of neuroenhancing drugs.  Prescription medications such as Adderall and Provigil are taken by individuals for these drugs performance boosting properties instead of medically treatable conditions.  Adderall was developed for the treatment of ADHD and Provigil was developed to counter the symptoms of narcolepsy.  Non-ill users of these drugs can perform better in college and on the job.  Anonymous internet surveys reveal that use of these medications as brain boosters for those without treatable medical conditions is accepted by a wide variety of respondents.

Employees and students who do not take these enhancing medications often feel at a competitive disadvantage.  Physicians expect that in the near future the use of neurocosmetics will be commonplace.  Big Pharma is working at a furious pace to develop medications that will delay the effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and the normal cognitive declines  associated with old age.

What I’ve wondered is – if the me that becomes the better me,  which is solely detertimed by a pharmaceutical, will I still be the same old me?

Iggy Donnelly


Filed under Healthcare, Psychology Ramblings..., Research

6 responses to “Neuroenhancement: Will Your Life/Career Require It?

  1. iggydonnelly

    The possibilities here remind me of a William Gibson sci-fi novel.

  2. Thunderchild


    THERE’S three weeks of hell in my life.

    During the custody fight for my son, his mother took him to a Dr. who said he had AD/HD and put him on Aderall.

    My son was 3.

    When he wasn’t having uncontrollable crying jags, he often spent hour after hour staring at the ceiling. I even took it to court but the Judge would not stop the medication.

    I have a fear that as a society, we will become ever more willing to embrace pharmaceutical drugs as easily as we do water or air.

    Somewhere, some human resources person is probably thinking Meth would be great for productivity.

  3. jammer5

    My question is are we becoming a nation of drug addicts? Steroids, performance enhancing drugs, designer drugs for both pleasure and psychotic disorders . . . where does it end, if it can end? The pharmaceutical companies are loving it, and the more we do drugs, the more they will come out with in the same vein.

    We still haven’t cured cancer and many other life threatening illnesses, but we can perform in bed, up our brain power, think we’ve helped AD/HD and created a drug addicted society that still thinks smoking a joint will topple that same society. We got serious problems, and I don’t see them getting any better in the near future.

  4. I think YES we are becoming a nation of drug addicts.

    We have instant everything. I guess instant relief, ability to cope more easily and quickly, not extending any effort beyond swallowing the pill might be part of that instant world.

  5. I’m still reading the referenced article at The New Yorker — I encourage you to read it (it’s long but should be read)! The best defense is knowledge and this is sounding more and more like something every parent needs to be aware of. Sadly, some of our brightest and best are the abusers.

    From the article:

    “Last April, the scientific journal Nature published the results of an informal online poll asking whether readers attempted to sharpen “their focus, concentration, or memory” by taking drugs such as Ritalin and Provigil—a newer kind of stimulant, known generically as modafinil, which was developed to treat narcolepsy. One out of five respondents said that they did. A majority of the fourteen hundred readers who responded said that healthy adults should be permitted to take brain boosters for nonmedical reasons, and sixty-nine per cent said that mild side effects were an acceptable risk. Though a majority said that such drugs should not be made available to children who had no diagnosed medical condition, a third admitted that they would feel pressure to give “smart drugs” to their kids if they learned that other parents were doing so.”

  6. I wonder if another part of this predicament might be addressed in an article in this week’s Newsweek? It’s titled, “Generation Me,” and follows a theme of a new book that says we’re in a ‘narcissism epidemic.’

    The Newsweek article says, “I shudder to think what a monster I would have become in the modern child-rearing era. Gorged on a diet of grade inflation, constant praise and materialistic entitlement, I probably would have succumbed to a life of heedless self- indulgence.

    Perhaps, one day, we will say that the recession saved us from a parenting ethos that churns out ego-addled spoiled brats. And though it is too soon to tell if our economic free fall will cure America of its sense of economic privilege, it has made it much harder to get the money together to give our kids six-figure sweet-16 parties and plastic surgery for graduation presents, all in the name of “self esteem.” And that’s a good thing, because as Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell point out in their excellent book “The Narcissism Epidemic,” released last week, we’ve built up the confidence of our kids, but in that process, we’ve created a generation of hot-house flowers puffed with a disproportionate sense of self-worth (the definition of narcissism) and without the resiliency skills they need when Mommy and Daddy can’t fix something.