In this, the first episode of don’t believe everything you read (a title prefix that I’ll reuse), I give some advice about not falling victim to confirmation bias and following bad advice online if you are thinking of using amphetamines to improve your work performance.
My route to this post was indirect… I read an interesting article about what happened when some crooks tried to implement Ayn Rand’s idea of paradise. Long story short is it didn’t work out. Ayn Rand was an author who now has a cult following, an author who was a narcissist and elitist, one who valued her own imagined intellectual superiority and despised women.
Her protagonists were rapists and fraudsters and her books were too long. But what got me interested, besides the fact that I’d read negative articles about her before, was the article author’s surreptitious inclusion of a drug reference. It turns out that she wrote her books while tweaking on Benzedrine. (An amphetamine.) Other articles that mention her three decades of amphetamine use are here and here.
The last link above mentions others who used speed to make their art. It doesn’t surprise me, since I created some impressive oil paintings on meth. Many others I knew fancied themselves artists on meth, and it’s a comfortable delusion to have, but it comes at great personal cost. The popularity of art is, to some extent, random and subjective. Any art could become popular, and what essentially happened for Rand and the others mentioned is simply that they got lucky.
Rand’s elitist attitude reminds me of many meth addicts I knew. Amphetamines are not great for one’s social life. Users are anxious and appear edgy, which is a normal side-effect of speed. But they also become paranoid, arrogant and smug, and are prone to aggressive outbursts of unnecessary hostility. The descriptions I’ve read about Rand also remind me of Andrew Eldritch, who fronted alternative rock band The Sisters of Mercy. Eldritch has a similar attitude to the late Ayn Rand, and is prone to praising himself for his writing, stating that people don’t understand it. He mentions his allusions to Milton and is prone to exaggerating and boasting about his own intellectuality, even though his drug use has led to him living in his own world where he believes record companies and others have a vendetta against him, and he hasn’t released anything new in 22 years.
Then I found this: An article about a small Norwegian study that presented amphetamine use in a positive light. It also mentions Rand, but doesn’t get into what her drug habit did to her life, and doesn’t come close to describing the horrid person that she was (which may or may not have been because of her drug use. I’m guessing it was). Presumably such details are omitted because they would contradict the positive take on amphetamines. Rand was not a good role model for anybody, and her drug-induced philosophy is about as deep as her cardboard cut-out characters. Note also that the article only mentions a “small Norwegian study”… It doesn’t say how small, though it does mention the caveats of a small sample size and anecdotal evidence. Do not believe articles like this. I fell victim to confirmation bias years ago before I first used meth. I had already decided that I wanted to use, so I researched it online, but the problem was I was looking to confirm that using it isn’t so bad… I found what I was looking for. (Because it’s easy to do so. The internet has a near endless supply of nonsense that will confirm anything you want to believe.)
I found an article that mentioned meth “may improve your performance with simple, repetitive tasks”. What I didn’t know was that on meth, you turn everything into simple, repetitive tasks. You become a zombie, destroying all your relationships, and eventually you are delusional and live in your own dark little world.
My amphetamine use led me to a decidedly dark place, a deep pit of pain and despair. It took me years to climb out of it, and I believe that everybody who uses amphetamines ends up in such a place. Most however, don’t get to climb out.
If you read anything that tells you amphetamines are good for you, please don’t believe it, or else you might not live to regret your choice to use it.
Don’t believe everything you read.
One more thing… and this is sad. If you follow the link to a blog post that questions whether Ayn Rand was a drug addict, be sure to read the comments. Although that post was written in 2011, the last two comments were written in July of this year by someone named Nicole who writes an anonymous blog. She had little to say in too many words, so she wrote two rambling comments. This Nicole is quite likely a meth addict and is delusional. Here’s a link to her About page. She believes that she is under mind control, and she hears voices. Additionally, one of her obsessions is with Socionics personality types, and most of her comments are with regard to that, in terms of her curiosity about Ayn Rand’s personality type. (An obsession that leads to research is the type of strange thing that a meth user might tweak on, or it could indicate other things, I suppose, such as mental illness or a disorder of some sort. But her obsession seems to go beyond what might be considered normal.)
Update: I could be wrong. I reached out to her and she was quite friendly and stated that she doesn’t use meth. But anyway, her writing is not unlike what could be expected of a using meth addict, and gives a reasonable impression of what you can expect to be like, if ever you use meth. Actually it’s fucking depressing. Her latest post mentions she fears she has caught rabies from her dead cat. (Although the voices tell her it’s part of an “unethical vaccine experiment”.) Of course she doesn’t have rabies. It’s all in her mind. She’s also written about her cat, describing how she found the body, and though she believes he died of rabies, her own description leads me to believe he was hit by a car and moved or thrown to the side of the road. Of all her writing, that moved me the most because I love cats. (And my previous cat died like that. I went to fetch her from the middle of the road where she died. I will spare you the details.)