• October 31, 2014
October 31, 2014, 5:56:57 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: Talk online about your experiences as an adjunct, visiting assistant professor, postdoc, or other contract faculty member.
 
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
Author Topic: Use of Stimulants - and we're sniping?  (Read 9181 times)
magistra
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,488

discolor unde auri per ramos aura refulsit.


« on: March 09, 2008, 1:03:58 AM »

There's a link to an article in today's NYTimes (where else?) about the use of stimulants like adderall in academia.  When I started reading it, I thought, hmmm, I've never heard of this as a real problem.  And it doesn't seem to be a big debate topic on the forum.  But apparently it is! 

Quote
The debate has also caught fire on the Web site of The Chronicle of Higher Education, where academics and students are sniping at one another.

Are we?  Does this mean the fora, or somewhere else?  And how many students even read CHE?  Why do I read the NYTimes, when oh-so-often it only upsets me?
Logged

First it was Wolfram and Hart, now it's Blackboard.  There's not much moral difference, if you ask me. -- Malcha

Grammar is the chocolate in the buttery croissant of life.  -- Yellowtractor

Okay, so that was petty.  Today, I feel like embracing pettiness.  -- Mended Drum
namazu
Un-
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,241


« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2008, 1:27:46 AM »

It appears to be in the comments in response to this: http://chronicle.com/news/article/3673/brain-boosting-drugs-hit-the-faculty-lounge

(Incidentally, the commenter who wrote that appears not to be a professor at all:
"I’m not too familiar with the world of academia, but if the professor has tenure already and still takes the medication, does his or her continued pursuit of knowledge (even without rewards) seem unfair? Are you jealous that he craves knowledge more than you?")
« Last Edit: March 09, 2008, 1:32:30 AM by namazu » Logged
magistra
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,488

discolor unde auri per ramos aura refulsit.


« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2008, 1:46:51 AM »

Thanks!

There aren't actually too many comments, though, and only a couple were by students.  At least two posts were by a person who admitted not being an academic at all.  I don't think that's exactly a representative sample.  Plus, the anonymity -- beyond even what we have here -- skews things. 

Since the NYTimes is also link happy -- every article has every conceivable word linked to something -- I'm surprised that they didn't link to CHE.  And it all just seems so anecdotal.  And I want to say bad science, but I don't see much science at all.  Weak journalism, though, why yes, I do see that!  The article linked to at the left was much better on the subject, though it was about students only.  Personally, I think a more useful debate is why we potentially need to take them -- that tenure requirements at some schools have gotten out of hand, and the time spent at the job often far outweighs the rewards.  We shouldn't need a chemical enhancement just to do our jobs.
Logged

First it was Wolfram and Hart, now it's Blackboard.  There's not much moral difference, if you ask me. -- Malcha

Grammar is the chocolate in the buttery croissant of life.  -- Yellowtractor

Okay, so that was petty.  Today, I feel like embracing pettiness.  -- Mended Drum
fiona
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 14,072


« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2008, 2:28:23 AM »

A student told me I looked tired and offered me Adderall.

Drugs are for sharing, I guess.

The Fiona
Logged

The Fiona or Them Fionæ or Fiona the Sublime

Professor of Thread Killing, Fiork University
daniel_von_flanagan
<redacted>
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 13,289

Works all day. Posts all night. Needs sleep.


« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2008, 5:10:31 AM »

The discussion after the article contains many posts by people with monikers like "A Professor" and "Philosophy Prof".  Our newspaper of record evidently finds this definitive evidence that there are faculty participating on that thread. - DvF
Logged

The U.S. Education Department is establishing a new national research center to study colleges' ability to successfully educate the country's growing numbers of academically underprepared administrators.
treehugger1
The unhasty, Entish
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,710


« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2008, 3:34:34 PM »

Personally, I think a more useful debate is why we potentially need to take them -- that tenure requirements at some schools have gotten out of hand, and the time spent at the job often far outweighs the rewards.  We shouldn't need a chemical enhancement just to do our jobs.

Or maybe the relationship between the use of performance-enhancing drugs and job requirements. In other words, I think it goes both ways -- academics (self-)medicate in order to perform and requirements creep up, in part, because people are willing to (self-)medicate. (In other words, I don't think we need to take drugs. It's just that sometimes, it seems to be the easy way out ... or up the ladder.) Of course, this dynamic is hardly unique to academia.

And it all just seems so anecdotal.  And I want to say bad science, but I don't see much science at all.  Weak journalism, though, why yes, I do see that! 

Yes ... I think much of the evidence in the article was anecdotal. Yet, I think it's clear that there is an unexamined over-reliance on drugs, both by those who post here and in our society in general. A couple of examples:

Every so often someone posts in "Balancing Work and Life" compaining of a "depression" clearly related to over-work and an unbalanced life-style. Yet, many posters respond by suggesting or urging medication. Take a look at the "Indescribable Depression" thread. http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,37767.0.html. The first six responses all suggest pharmaceutical intervention. This insistance on medication continued, even after the OP linked her depression to overcommitment to work and lack of social contact: "Wish I had friends.  I deal with colleagues and acquaintances, deny myself the risk and rewards of making myself vulnerable to friends.  Sad. I'd say in reterospect,  I've pumped in a lot of my life force for my profession. " "The verdict seems to be to see an MD right away.  Ok.  I'll go." Maybe the demands of her job really are/were too great. Maybe the most ethical, effective response would be/have been simply to refuse to work as much, to refuse to pump so much into one's career. (To be fair, others (notably VP) suggested a more wholistic approach to the problem. However, we had to wait until response #59 --taormina's -- to get the first suggestion that ... wait for it ... the OP simply scale back and choose to work less!)

There also seems to be the attitude that medication (as long as it is prescribed by a doctor) is a completely acceptable way to cope with whatever challenges one might face. It can't find the link, but a few months ago there was a thread on fear of flying on which a large minority of posters suggested various drugs ... although the anxiety in question was clearly of situational rather than biological origin.

Given this kind of response, I'd be surprised if there weren't a growing trend toward (self)-medication for performance enhancement in (and beyond) academia.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2008, 3:36:31 PM by treehugger1 » Logged

Not a member of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. May we live long and not die out.
sciencephd
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,040


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2008, 3:44:49 PM »


There is a distinction between anti-depressants and performance-enhancing drugs.  Pharmaceuticals are clearly a legitimate response to depression (as distinct from sadness), including situational depression.  Depression is probably over-diagnosed, for sure.  But this is not in the same category as "smart pills" or amphetamine usage.
Logged

I just hate it that I constantly have to like everyone and everything. -- moonstone

O, what a hateful feminist concoction!
Jews, communists, "lesbians", feminists and marihuana addicts  --Pyshnov
treehugger1
The unhasty, Entish
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,710


« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2008, 3:57:25 PM »


There is a distinction between anti-depressants and performance-enhancing drugs.  Pharmaceuticals are clearly a legitimate response to depression (as distinct from sadness), including situational depression.  Depression is probably over-diagnosed, for sure.  But this is not in the same category as "smart pills" or amphetamine usage.

It is, in part, this assumption I'm trying to "get at." If depression is truly biological and unrelated to cultural or job-related demands for performance, then, by all means, drug away. But I think, that many instances of "depression" can be linked, like I said, to unrealistic career-related demands whether self or other imposed. In this case, medication might certainly be "legitimate." It might also work. Yet, I think the practice does not serve us all, in the long term. That is ... from a broader perspective, it is not a truly ethical choice.

Of course, I'm not exempting myself from this pattern ... just pointing it out.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2008, 3:59:21 PM by treehugger1 » Logged

Not a member of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. May we live long and not die out.
sciencephd
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,040


WWW
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2008, 4:06:06 PM »


There is a distinction between anti-depressants and performance-enhancing drugs.  Pharmaceuticals are clearly a legitimate response to depression (as distinct from sadness), including situational depression.  Depression is probably over-diagnosed, for sure.  But this is not in the same category as "smart pills" or amphetamine usage.

It is, in part, this assumption I'm trying to "get at." If depression is truly biological and unrelated to cultural or job-related demands for performance, then, by all means, drug away. But I think, that many instances of "depression" can be linked, like I said, to unrealistic career-related demands whether self or other imposed. In this case, medication might certainly be "legitimate." It might also work. Yet, I think the practice does not serve us all, in the long term. That is ... from a broader perspective, it is not a truly ethical choice.

Of course, I'm not exempting myself from this pattern ... just pointing it out.

The probem is that there is not a simple dichtomy between "biological/chemical" and "situational" depression.   They are inter-linked.  So the situation of "unrealistic career-related demands"  as you mention, or, say, extra job stress, can/will trigger a bout of depression in a person with a history of depression.  So its a complex blend, and I don't think it is right to describe this as "not a truly ethical choice".

I totally agree with you if you are talking about performance-enhancing drugs such as amphetamine, hgh, or whatever is the current trend.  I just don't agree that anti-depressants fall into this category.
Logged

I just hate it that I constantly have to like everyone and everything. -- moonstone

O, what a hateful feminist concoction!
Jews, communists, "lesbians", feminists and marihuana addicts  --Pyshnov
prytania3
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 44,063

Prytania, the Foracle


« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2008, 4:11:07 PM »

This is just part of the new reactionary Zeitgeist. Blasting big pharma and being Tom Cruise-like.
Logged

I'm not a narcissist. I'm just angry and violent.
treehugger1
The unhasty, Entish
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,710


« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2008, 4:44:31 PM »


There is a distinction between anti-depressants and performance-enhancing drugs.  Pharmaceuticals are clearly a legitimate response to depression (as distinct from sadness), including situational depression.  Depression is probably over-diagnosed, for sure.  But this is not in the same category as "smart pills" or amphetamine usage.

It is, in part, this assumption I'm trying to "get at." If depression is truly biological and unrelated to cultural or job-related demands for performance, then, by all means, drug away. But I think, that many instances of "depression" can be linked, like I said, to unrealistic career-related demands whether self or other imposed. In this case, medication might certainly be "legitimate." It might also work. Yet, I think the practice does not serve us all, in the long term. That is ... from a broader perspective, it is not a truly ethical choice.

Of course, I'm not exempting myself from this pattern ... just pointing it out.

The probem is that there is not a simple dichtomy between "biological/chemical" and "situational" depression.   They are inter-linked.  So the situation of "unrealistic career-related demands"  as you mention, or, say, extra job stress, can/will trigger a bout of depression in a person with a history of depression.  So its a complex blend, and I don't think it is right to describe this as "not a truly ethical choice".

I agree that there is a relationship between situational demands and biology -- that it's hard to disentangle the two. However, I don't see any attempt to distinguish between these two scenarios:

1) Someone has some kind of biological imbalance that prevents them from meeting normal, reasonable job requirements -- that is -- a disfunction that is primarily biological.

2) Someone whose job requirements are in fact excessive, who reacts by becoming depressed, and whose depression then becomes a downward spiral where a newly created biological deficiency makes it even harder to fulfill unrealistic demands.

In the first case, it is clearly the academic who has the problem. In the second case, it is the system itself that is deficient. Again, it's very difficult to distinguish between the two, but I don't get the sense that most people even attempt this kind of analysis. The emphasis instead is purely pragmatic. Whatever works ... in the short term, or for this particular academic.

And I'm still not convinced about the distinction between antidepressants and performance enhancing drugs. Well... obviously the drugs themselves are different ... but the motivation for taking them stems would seem to stem from a similar dynamic. Do academics take performance enhancing drugs simply because of overweening ambition? Or are they responding to a fear of inadequacy that is itself linked to the very same unrealistic demands that trigger depression in others. This is just more anecdotal evidence ... but the one grad student I knew who routinely took prescription stimulants seemed incredibly anxious about her career prospects. In other words, she wasn't a picture of mental health, just taking stimulant to increase her advantage.

In other words, I think there's a tendancy to make some kind of too neat opposition between the 1) mentally ill/depressed who have a legitimate need for medical help and 2) those who are just fine (mentally healthy) and just using stimulants to cheat. Moreoever, in each case, there's a bit too much emphasis on the individual in question and not the larger cultural system in which they are caught up.
Logged

Not a member of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. May we live long and not die out.
tenured_feminist
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,564


« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2008, 5:03:33 PM »

Can someone with a science background articulate for me a meaningful difference between caffeine and other stimulants for which prescriptions are required? And between stimulants for which prescriptions are required and stimulants which are illegal?
Logged

Quote
You people are not fooling me. I know exactly what occurred in that thread, and I know exactly what you all are doing.
sciencephd
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,040


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2008, 5:11:26 PM »

Can someone with a science background articulate for me a meaningful difference between caffeine and other stimulants for which prescriptions are required? And between stimulants for which prescriptions are required and stimulants which are illegal?

The biochemical mechanism of caffeine is fairly complex.  There may be different mechanisms of action.  It depends on exactly what stimulants you are talking about.  Even the term stimulant is blurry in the case of some drugs.
Logged

I just hate it that I constantly have to like everyone and everything. -- moonstone

O, what a hateful feminist concoction!
Jews, communists, "lesbians", feminists and marihuana addicts  --Pyshnov
tenured_feminist
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,564


« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2008, 6:02:41 PM »

My point is that we place caffeine in one category, Ritalin and Adderall in another, and various other amphetamines in a third. Is this justifiable on purely medical/physiological grounds?
Logged

Quote
You people are not fooling me. I know exactly what occurred in that thread, and I know exactly what you all are doing.
sciencephd
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,040


WWW
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2008, 6:06:46 PM »

My point is that we place caffeine in one category, Ritalin and Adderall in another, and various other amphetamines in a third. Is this justifiable on purely medical/physiological grounds?

The short answer is yes, it is justifiable on physiological grounds.  The mechanism of action and effects are quite different.
Logged

I just hate it that I constantly have to like everyone and everything. -- moonstone

O, what a hateful feminist concoction!
Jews, communists, "lesbians", feminists and marihuana addicts  --Pyshnov
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.