Enhance your mind
Would you take pills to change your personality or boost your brain? Daniel Wood and colleagues discuss the ethical dilemmas
- By: Daniel Wood, Edmund Naylor, Sheheryar Kabraji, Julian Savulescu
Mind altering drugs have been used for millennia, but until recent decades their use has largely been recreational. Alcohol has a history as long as civilisation and is even used by other primates, and the quest for opium has had a great historical impact. Now drugs designed for medical use have begun to be used by healthy people to enhance experience, intellect, and ability. This poses novel ethical challenges.
Here enhancement is defined as “interventions designed to improve human form or functioning beyond … good health.”1 This is a simplification and the subject of considerable discussion but is suitable for our introduction to the topic.2
The latter half of the 20th century saw the beginnings of modern neuroscience and psychiatry. These disciplines have largely focused on developing treatments for neurological disease, but many of the treatments developed also have profound effects on the healthy brain. Until recently the negative attributes