A giant leap for mankind or a first step toward the self-destruction caused by stress?
by Filippo Nicolai
How many times have you heard the word “smart”? Nowadays the persistent echo of that rings out constantly in our ears, as if it was a slight and permanent whisper…Actually no, perhaps it’s more similar to a jackhammer, permanent yes, but surely not slight. In fact, at present we got used to hear the term “smart” every day, either alone or linked to something else like, for example, “smartphones”, “smartTvs”, “smartwatches”: these are just the first words that come to mind.
Having said that, it is simple to recognize how by now the world has started to demand only for the best, to seek only the highest possible level, to ask only for the ones who are really brilliant. The world has been filled too much with competitiveness. “Being smart” used to just be a personal aim, now it is necessary: it’s required. But what if you are not smart? What may you do? How is it possible to race on equal ground with those who have natural aptitudes? And here come the “Smart drugs”; or even better, the “cognition enhancers”.
The first one, the amphetamine, was discovered about the last ten years of the 19th century, but it reached a massive spread only during the Thirties because of its being sold as a pharmaceutical product for the cold under the name of “Benzedrine”. As a matter of fact, day by day the customers became less interested in its alleged decongestant effects and started focusing their attention to the productivity, which seemed to be improved like never before: but also the side-effects did not take long to obviously show up. Nevertheless everyone saw the spark: for the first time it seemed possible to enhance people’s capabilities or at least their concentration. From the spark, the fire. The researches began and with these the ethical and scientific questions.
However, it is known that after all, when the world discovers something useful, it is really hard to stop its diffusion just by talking about ethics; but in such case the willingness to help those who aren’t as lucky as us played a great role in the increase of the phenomenon. In fact, it was discovered that some of these pills can help the people who suffer from ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), surely a magnificent thing, but then it became the pretext to create a huge industry which sells these products to those who, medically speaking, do not really need it. Actually these products aim to make one person focus on his work by stimulating their concentration and their energies, so it’s easy to see how simple it is to use them improperly.
In fact, at the moment in the US alone this sector of the pharmaceutical world is worth 13$ billion and its main consumers are not, how everyone could expect, those who are affected by this disease, but rather university students or people forced to do stressful jobs for a living. So by paying attention to these users, the question arises: if people started to take those pills to fill a gap between them and others, could the others, who don’t need them, be forced to take them because then another gap would be created, and so potentially exposing everyone to the possible side-effects?