HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Academic Perfomance Enhancements -

First, it was those baseball players named in the Mitchell Report - now it could be your law professor or any random college student who uses performance enhancing drugs.  This past weekend, the New York Times ran an article on the use of certain drugs among students and professors to enhance their scholarly performance - mainly it seems to allow individuals to spend more hours awake.  The New York Times article quotes Dr. Anjan Chatterjee who compares this drug use to cosmetic surgery and is concerned about future use of these drugs  -

Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania who foresaw this debate in a 2004 paper, argues that the history of cosmetic surgery — scorned initially as vain and unnatural but now mainstream as a form of self-improvement — is a guide to predicting the trajectory of cosmetic neurology, as he calls it.

People already use legal performance enhancers, he said, from high-octane cafe Americanos to the beta-blockers taken by musicians to ease stage fright, to antidepressants to improve mood. “So the question with all of these things is, Is this enhancement, or a matter of removing the cloud over our better selves?” he said. . . .

Along those same lines, the Neuroethics & Law Blog quotes from a student, Molly, who wrote about her use of Adderall.  The blog quotes Molly saying,

"It is difficult to know whether it is a drug itself or a drug culture that attracts certain people to certain substances. In the case of Adderall, I came for the culture and stayed for the drug. Nothing had ever tempted me before. As an adolescent girl, alcohol was closely allied with promiscuity, and I was a prude. Weed suggested foolishness and snacking, and I was foolish and hungry enough as it was. But then came college, and with it, Adderall—a drug associated with writing, thinking, and joyful, hermetic reading. Adderall Me and Ideal Me were nearly the same person, and I saw no reason not to dabble in my best self."

I don't like to think that I can only find my "deepest" self is by using a drug designed to help with ADHD - however, I do sometimes need my cup of coffee in the morning . . . .

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