Psychiatry Presents Yet One More Lunatic Idea

From: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/09/gandhi-pills-ps.html

Only a psychiatrist would have the front to propose such lunatic nonsense.  If it were true that a pill could enhance morality then we would be able to cure psychiatrists.

Gandhi Pills? Psychiatrist Argues for Moral Performance Enhancers

By Alexis Madrigal EmailSeptember 09, 2008 | 10:59:24 AMCategories: BehaviorCognitionDrugs & Alcohol  

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Could the right drug make you a better person?

A British psychiatrist raises and argues for that possibility in a new paper in a prominent psychiatry journal. In fact, he says that in many clinical settings, moral steroids are already being used.

“Within many clinical encounters, there may already be a subtle form of moral assistance going on, albeit one we do not choose to describe in these terms,” writes Sean Spence of the University of Sheffield in theBritish Journal of Psychiatry.”

Performance-enhancing drugs are generally used to enhance performance in competitive settings, like sports. On Wired Science, we’ve spent a lot of time looking at ways to increase cognitive performance. But what Spence suggests is that science should be searching for drugs to make people more “humane” not just smarter. 

Spence describes the case of a man with “antisocial personality disorder” — somewhere on the continuum between dangerously sociopathic and just kind of a jerk — who requests drugs to prevent himself from harming a girlfriend. In making that request, Spence says that the man is using pharmaceuticals to exhibit “moral agency.”

“Hence, if we ask the question ‘Can pharmacology help to enhance human morality?’ then we should answer ‘yes,’ that sometimes it can be used as a means to this end,” Spence writes. 

What do you think? Do you already use some substance — say, marijuana or a prescription painkiller — not for how it makes you feel, but how it influences your behavior toward other people? Do you consider this “moral pharmacology”? 

Spence mentions that drugs could be specifically designed to “target and increase a prosocial feeling and behaviour such as ‘kindness.'” Would you take a kindness pill?

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