Should All Human Beings Pop the (Theoretical) ‘Limitless’ Pill?

LimitlessYes, a pop culture way to ask a “Brave New World” question. Rahul Parikh poses on Salon:

The film’s “miracle” drug may seem far-fetched, but it’s based in a medical reality: Taking certain medications, specifically those developed to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, can boost cognitive performance in otherwise healthy people.

Many of us instinctively recoil from such an idea for moral reasons. Sculpting our brains, unlike, say, sculpting our noses, seems like cheating. But consider this: 7 percent of surveyed college students (and some 25 percent of those on elite campuses) have taken an unprescribed Ritalin — or a similar drug used to treat attention deficit disorder — to boost their performance on an exam.

And the phenomenon is not restricted to college students trying to raise their grade point averages: The military has a history of encouraging — and sometimes even ordering — soldiers to take Ritalin or Provigil, a drug that boosts alertness. Canadian researchers are now looking at a drug called metyrapone that may help dull the sting of painful memories. Already common is the number of executives who swallow a little dose of Propranolol — which is normally used to treat high blood pressure but has also been prescribed for performance anxiety for many years — to calm their nerves before they speak. And with so many of us already hustling to Starbucks morning, noon and night for shots of caffeine to keep us going, the question arises: Is there a case to be made for cognitive enhancement?

More on Salon

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  • Hadrian999

    It is best for man to be middle-wise,

    Not over cunning and clever:

    The learned man whose lore is deep

    Is seldom happy at heart.

  • Hadrian999

    It is best for man to be middle-wise,

    Not over cunning and clever:

    The learned man whose lore is deep

    Is seldom happy at heart.

    • NarwhalNecropsy

      Ignorance is bliss.

      • Hadrian999

        I wouldn’t say ignorance but knowing to much can be an ass kicker

        • NarwhalNecropsy

          I don’t disagree with you, but I have always valued knowledge over my own happiness.  Mabey I’m just f**ked up.

          • Hadrian999

            sad to say it but i’m the same

  • DeepCough

    “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” ~Hunter S. Thompson

  • DeepCough

    “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” ~Hunter S. Thompson

  • NarwhalNecropsy

    Ignorance is bliss.

  • Hadrian999

    I wouldn’t say ignorance but knowing to much can be an ass kicker

  • Anonymous

    You mean a DMT-and-Pagaeum-Harmala-pill? Yes.

  • JoiquimCouteau

    You mean a DMT-and-Pagaeum-Harmala-pill? Yes.

  • Anonymous

    Soldiers cannot be ordered to take a drug they have not been prescribed by a Medical Doctor. However, any such prescription from a MD is an order.

    I simply doubt anyone who makes claims about the Military who has not been in it.

  • Redacted

    Soldiers cannot be ordered to take a drug they have not been prescribed by a Medical Doctor. However, any such prescription from a MD is an order.

    I simply doubt anyone who makes claims about the Military who has not been in it.

    • Syber_punk

      Suddenly your probably the type of person that believes our government would lie to it`s citizens either 

      • Redacted

        Nice try chump. Come at me when your troll is a bit better.

        • Anarchy Pony

          And when Its spelling and grammar actually make Its point understood.

  • ditm

    “Taking certain medications, specifically those developed to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, can boost cognitive performance in otherwise healthy people.”Only the complete opposite is true. Almost all these drugs work by cognitive impairment, as has been shown time and time again. Being slightly impaired can help certain people in certain situations, but the drugs actions are no different from having a few pints to be better socially. Cognitive ability is NEVER boosted by drugs. Selective parts are impaired.

  • ditm

    “Taking certain medications, specifically those developed to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, can boost cognitive performance in otherwise healthy people.”Only the complete opposite is true. Almost all these drugs work by cognitive impairment, as has been shown time and time again. Being slightly impaired can help certain people in certain situations, but the drugs actions are no different from having a few pints to be better socially. Cognitive ability is NEVER boosted by drugs. Selective parts are impaired.

    • HrT5

      You do not know what you are writing about.

      • ditm

        Then give an example. Stimulants for ADHD work by impairment (Arnsten 2006 Neuropsychopharmacology, Arakawa 1994 Physiology&Behaviour). Antipsychotics for Psychoses work by impairment (Reilly 2006 Archives of General Psychiatry). Antidepressants work by impairment (Wadsworth 2005, Human Psychopharmacology)

        All psychiatric drugs work by impairment. It is the simplest explanation, the explanation that follows the evidence, and the correct explanation.

    • Gogoaction

      I think ditm needs some cognitive enhancement. HrT5 is correct when they say that you do not know what you are talking about.

  • anon

    There will be, in the next generation or
    so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and
    producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of
    painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in
    fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy
    it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by
    propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological
    methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.—Aldous Huxley

  • anon

    There will be, in the next generation or
    so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and
    producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of
    painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in
    fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy
    it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by
    propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological
    methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.—Aldous Huxley

    • Cankerous

      Yes and it is both television and fluoride… I could add more shit but you wouldn’t believe me.

    • Anarchy Pony

      The sad part is that I don’t think they even need a pill for that…

  • anon

    i’ve always railed my script ritalin and holy fucking shit, not only did i feel great, but my brain was incredibly productive :)

  • anon

    i’ve always railed my script ritalin and holy fucking shit, not only did i feel great, but my brain was incredibly productive :)

  • Cankerous

    Yes and it is both television and fluoride… I could add more shit but you wouldn’t believe me.

  • HrT5

    You do not know what you are writing about.

  • Derek Giannone

    I think that this theory is incredibly ignorant. I think that taking pills to increase cognitive performance is pretty ludicrous due to the fact that as you continue to take the medication your tolerance grows and the possible amounts of brain dysfunction grow. While it may make you quicker or possibly more intelligent in the short term, you will become reliant on that substance to continue to provide this, and then once you can not take it any more due to a horrible tolerance, the withdrawal and brain chemical effects it will have in the aftermath could possibly leave you neurologically damaged. If your brain relies on a certain chemical for a prolonged period of time to increase attention, it’s ability to do this slowly wanes and afterwards the rebound period for this ability would be a horrible burden if it comes back at all.

  • Derek Giannone

    I think that this theory is incredibly ignorant. I think that taking pills to increase cognitive performance is pretty ludicrous due to the fact that as you continue to take the medication your tolerance grows and the possible amounts of brain dysfunction grow. While it may make you quicker or possibly more intelligent in the short term, you will become reliant on that substance to continue to provide this, and then once you can not take it any more due to a horrible tolerance, the withdrawal and brain chemical effects it will have in the aftermath could possibly leave you neurologically damaged. If your brain relies on a certain chemical for a prolonged period of time to increase attention, it’s ability to do this slowly wanes and afterwards the rebound period for this ability would be a horrible burden if it comes back at all.

  • Syber_punk

    Suddenly your probably the type of person that believes our government would lie to it`s citizens either 

  • Anon

    people are doing it, whether its legal or not

  • Anon

    people are doing it, whether its legal or not

  • Gogoaction

    I think ditm needs some cognitive enhancement. HrT5 is correct when they say that you do not know what you are talking about.

  • Rsan

    I’d kick my kid’s ass (in a verbal way) if they ever joined the fucking military. This is YOUR life, not some government’s armed wing. Fuck the goddamn military.

  • Rsan

    I’d kick my kid’s ass (in a verbal way) if they ever joined the fucking military. This is YOUR life, not some government’s armed wing. Fuck the goddamn military.

    • Hadrian999

      so it’s only HIS life if he does with it what you wish him to do?

  • NarwhalNecropsy

    I don’t disagree with you, but I have always valued knowledge over my own happiness.  Mabey I’m just f**ked up.

  • Hadrian999

    sad to say it but i’m the same

  • Anonymous

    Nice try chump. Come at me when your troll is a bit better.

  • ditm

    Then give an example. Stimulants for ADHD work by impairment (Arnsten 2006 Neuropsychopharmacology, Arakawa 1994 Physiology&Behaviour). Antipsychotics for Psychoses work by impairment (Reilly 2006 Archives of General Psychiatry). Antidepressants work by impairment (Wadsworth 2005, Human Psychopharmacology)

    All psychiatric drugs work by impairment. It is the simplest explanation, the explanation that follows the evidence, and the correct explanation.

  • Hadrian999

    so it’s only HIS life if he does with it what you wish him to do?

  • Old Soul

    And when Its spelling and grammar actually make Its point understood.

  • Old Soul

    The sad part is that I don’t think they even need a pill for that…

  • Elifiknow

    Inventing a drug to remove memories, now that makes CIA turds cum in their pants.
    “You mean we could torture someone within an inch of their life, no matter what they know, or did, or were involved in, and they wouldn’t remember? GIMME GIMME!”
    Why the fuck should we be doing all this cognitive enhancement bullshit? Or the whole taking of energy drinks and caffeine, just to keep ourselves going? To keep up with the system, to compete? Fuck this is a nightmare. Why should we have to do this just to live our lives? Why should we all be forcing our lives to mesh with the system? Why don’t we have the system mesh with our lives? 
    This whole culture is insane.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Inventing a drug to remove memories, now that makes CIA turds cum in their pants.
    “You mean we could torture someone within an inch of their life, no matter what they know, or did, or were involved in, and they wouldn’t remember? GIMME GIMME!”
    Why the fuck should we be doing all this cognitive enhancement bullshit? Or the whole taking of energy drinks and caffeine, just to keep ourselves going? To keep up with the system, to compete? Fuck this is a nightmare. Why should we have to do this just to live our lives? Why should we all be forcing our lives to mesh with the system? Why don’t we have the system mesh with our lives? 
    This whole culture is insane.

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