I remember watching the movie Limitless back in 2011 and thinking of all of the different things I would do if I had a real life NZT-48 pill. I remember imagining that I would solve the energy crisis, become a hyperpolyglot, create world peace, set up a strategy to reverse the effects of climate change, and to be the first person on Mars…you know humble pursuits. Yesterday I re-watched the movie and instead of having a grandiose intentions all I could think about was how useful that pill would be for finals week. I couldn’t get my mind off of this (and it wasn’t because I was procrastinating all my responsibilities) because around this time of the semester there is a sudden spike in the real version of the pill….Adderall.
Unlike the movie, Adderall doesn’t make anyone into a superhuman freak “with a 4 digit IQ”. In fact, there are over 40 studies (source) that concluded that amphetamine (Adderall) has no benefits in the increase cognitive function. Amphetamines (AMP) are made to just fix defects. However, the most interesting part of the study concluded that AMP are beneficial in rote-learning (memorization in repetition), and focus, with greater effects in “lower preforming” individuals having little to offer for those with “greater intellectual” ability.
In LeBesco’s Revolting Bodies this “hyperactivity” that Adderall is supposed to correct is simplified down to an illness that can be treated with a chemical compound. Taking a step away from individuals with legitimate diagnoses there is a reason why med-students are the highest demographic to abuse amphetamines; there is a societal stigmatization that grades are the complete reflection of one’s ability to perform and that one is defective/disabled if they are not getting perfect test scores. LeBesco pointed out that strategic use of mass media has the ability to stimulate public agenda and discussion. Adderall advertisements are no different as they are advertised to make your child “normal” or to allow your children to reach their “full potential” (because it is “impossible” to reach their potential any other way).
It is these advertisements that are selling the disorder. This can be found with misleading online quizzes in which a 10 questions are used to determine ADHD and ADD likeliness, ads using famous singers to promote the drug even further, and the companies themselves spending millions of dollars on advocates going to doctors’ offices to promote the product.
Shire Pharmaceuticals (the biggest manufacturer of Adderall) paid the price of 56.4 million dollars in 2014 to resolve their false advertisements claims. So you cannot blame the college kid who is struggling to cram for the final exam. They feel as they need the boost these smart drugs promised.
By removing fat from beauty you have to question the paradigm of beauty itself. So in extension removing this “illness” from intelligence you have to question the grounds for intelligence. Grades and test scores reinforce the strict binary of intelligence (smart v dumb), and since those are the only tool used in academic performance, Adderall is the catalyst of conformity to that binary. Without proper placement inside the binary an identity crisis emerges. This is why Eddie Morra is not himself without the NZT-48 pill. The pill created his identity. For those who are do not have ADHD or ADD Adderall gives them the identity they were looking for wrapped up in a convenient viagra-blue pill.