Last week two national magazines –GQ and Bloomberg Businessweek-came out with articles referencing the growing popularity of LSD micro-dosing and other bio-hacks for enhanced work performance and more productive daily lives. These practices have gained critical mass in the Silicon Valley and its spokes in Seattle/Portland/Austin/NYC so their influence is amplified that much more.
It’s no accident that the momentum for the psychedelic-and other substance- fueled bio-hack strategies emanate from the Valley because substances that alter our mental chemistry….magic mushrooms, salvia, peyote, DMT alcohol….have always been allied with the religions of their times.
Today, objects from the technological cults are fetishized. Their shaman-geniuses venerated. God is found in algorithmic details. And our lives experience miracles as a result.
The Bloomberg Businessweek article is an expanded review of A Really Good Day – a book by Ayelet Waldman a former “federal public defender,” now writer who documents her 30 day experience with LSD microdosing over a 30 day period.
The article says, “Waldman’s problems….mood swings…anxiety …were relatively ordinary.”
However the paragraph goes on to say that she got worried. Worried- that the onset of menopause would compound these challenges. The article says she worried that they “threatened to disrupt her marriage and livelihood.”
She was inspired to try the regime after reading Bay Area psychedelic proponent Dr. James Fadiman’s book from 2011 outlining the 30 day schedule, taking 10 micrograms worth of LSD every three days. This dose is well below the standard threshold for hallucinating. The idea is to take enough to experience more clarity and enhanced productivity but not the over-powering hallucinogen episode.
The GQ piece has an experiential flavor to it (like Maureen Dowd writing about her cannabis experience in CO earlier this year) as the author Josh Dean also try’s Dr. Fadiman’s microdosing schedule on himself while also examining other bio-hacking approaches popular among West Coast techies and executives.
While the author says he didn’t experience any particular expanded feeling of clarity-though he reports more lucid dreaming-he ends the article saying he wants to continue with this strategy.
As it stands now, the microdosing approach is driven by a millennial mindset it’s a measured strategy. Small doses. It’s not about “dropping acid.” This isn’t about setting up situations where the participant risks at least temporary obliteration of the personality.
No one is looking to escape. This is supposed to be about fine tuning and enhancing the person’s connection with performance.
However one incident recounted in the GQ article concerns the experience of a microdosing practitioner who reported nothing happened when he did the recommended 10 mg. Which is what the author himself said about his experiences.
But in this case the user raised his dosage to 25mg and this appears to have had some real results as he reports: “I realized at the sales meeting that I never cared about the stupid product we were selling, so I went home.”
Okay now we’re beginning to touch on the more traditional effects of LSD-the kind that old hippies can relate to. And probably the likes of Henry Luce founder of Time Magazine who along with his wife was taking LSD in the early 60s. She was actually quoted saying LSD shouldn’t be given to the masses, but kept for the elites. But Leary, Alpert and the CIA of course had other ideas.
Gary Grant was another experiencer during this time. And if stories-like the one headlined below in a small magazine from the 90’s- are true- even John Kennedy was experienced.
Again comparing the millennial LSD use to the 60s several things stand out. For instance the focus. The people who are bio-hacking with LSD and other products which include mixing prescription medicines with other substances according to the imagination of the practitioner are focused on a systematic redesigning of their personalities….on the fly.
But these aren’t the hippies of old. We’re not talking about blotter acid or the orange barrels of yesterday providing unexpected shocks to the kundalini.
No. Today’s pioneers aren’t interested in mystical experiences that risk obliterating the psyche or tearing down the personality. And they’re not, like the 60s, going out and seeking gurus or ashrams to join.
This seems to be a relatively recent response-mirroring the growth of Silicon Valley’s technological influence over our society because throughout the 1990s there were a number of small magazines with a psychedelic focus that still carried the spiritual/conscious raising memes developed in the first onrush of LSD use. See examples below.
Given that the technological sphere is providing the context for much of today’s bio-hacking it’s only natural for the devotees to read the body/mind complex as code to be manipulated and then refocused on specific projects having to do with optimizing their productivity.
No one’s dropping acid to bust out of the system or escape The Man. No. Today’s pioneers are interested in integrating their hopefully heightened experiences with the technological work focused culture they’re immersed in.
And maybe that’s just the way the evolution of ideas goes. What starts outside of the larger system eventually makes its way in towards its center.
One day people will do this with the company’s blessing in certain quarters. It’ll be like Mad Men and their drinks-something to spur creativity. Not for everyone in every industry of course.
But it seems perfectly aligned with the kinds of brain cells needed to communicate with the gods delivering technological inspiration from the future.