The Cognitive Enhancement Craze
As a veteran psychonaut, I have been experimenting with altered states of consciousness for decades. During this time I have become well acquainted with numerous different psychoactive substances. One of the places that this strange journey has led me is into the domain of cognitive enhancement. This is important because smart drugs have recently become quite trendy, particularly in Silicon Valley. In fact, there is now a thriving worldwide market for nootropics. Unfortunately, much of the movement is based on misinformation.
In the strictest sense, these are substances that improve things like attention, inspiration, cognition, motivation, imagination, etc… The thing is that some of these drugs work really well, and some of them don’t seem to work at all. For instance, lots of people swear by piracetam, but I find it to be completely ineffective. Although, I’m sure it would work as a placebo for many. As a bit of a skeptic though, the substance never produces any significant differences in my mental state, even when taken in conjunction with choline as many suggest.
On the contrary, something like Vyvanse produces quite noticeable effects. To me, lisdexamfetamine is almost magical. It brings me such euphoric clarity and drive that it’s easy to see how badly abused the drug could become. It’s just as addictive as street-grade meth, and it can be used to confer an unfair advantage in competitions. Needless to say, this can result in all kinds of problems. Nonetheless, I have used it to aid me as an artist, a researcher, and so much more. I love to push the limits as much as anyone else, but the deeply coveted “Limitless” pill is ultimately just a work of fiction.
The thing to realize is that there is no magic bullet. Consider the fact that caffeine is a widely consumed, relatively safe, nootropic with proven stimulant effects, but it doesn’t actually lead to increased intelligence. More to the point, a drug like Concerta can improve memory, but has no other apparent enhancing effects. Similarly, Provigil really only aids in improving attention. There is no single substance that will beneficially alter brain function or improve mental health overall. On the flip side of this, supplement stacking can, and does, lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.
This is all part of the reason why the use of nootropics by healthy individuals in the absence of a medical indication is so intensely debated by philosophers, psychiatrists, and physicians alike. Their arguments include, but are not limited to, the ethics of supplementation to enhance performance, concerns over adverse effects, and the use of prescription drugs for non-medical applications. These kinds of questions and concerns are far from unfounded. Students, employees, and so many others are routinely turning to nootropics for more and more help as time goes on.
The international sales of cognitive enhancement supplements recently exceeded a billion dollars, a couple years ago, and the global demand for these compounds is growing quite rapidly. Unfortunately, there is still so little regulation of them and no where near enough information about them. More importantly, something like enhanced task enjoyment shouldn’t even come out of a pill bottle, it should emerge naturally from the proper fulfillment of one’s own destiny.
Be very wary of the cognitive enhancement craze!!!