Transhumanism, Cybernetics and Biohacking For Optimal Living
anonymous Asks ...
What’s the best way to maximize my cognitive potential and performance? I am interested in the ideals of biohacking but I am wary of going guinea pig with my brain. I would like to start a program of nutrition, brain exercise, supplements and medications, maybe even therapies like neurofeedback as a way to maximize my mental performance. I would like to do this in a low to no risk way. Are there any ‘coaches’ who could help me with this? The person would have to be an expert of some sort, such as a psychiatrist or a medical professional. Any ideas or information you could share would be greatly appreciated.
Dr. Richard Schultz Says ...
Pretty catchy title, eh?
Thank you for posing this very interesting question to me.
The good news and bad news, my friend, is that you seem to know a lot more about these juicy topics than do I. I had to Google "biohacking" just to understand what you were asking. Alas, I suppose I am older and more traditional than I thought! I must say, however, that I find these ideas quite fascinating, and I thank you for bringing them to my attention.
I can tell you this. From a clinical psychological perspective, the enhancement of life experience and bio-sociobehavioral functioning is typically addressed by the Positive Psychology movement, of which I am sure you are aware. This school of thought, research and practice has become hugely popular over the past 20 years. A variety of strategies, concepts and practices, that also include mindfullness meditation and other Eastern traditions, have been researched and written about from this perspective. These approaches are commonly used to increase happiness, as well to alleviate distress, and there is growing empirical support of their efficacy. Many of these are indeed behavioral in approach, but do not typically extend to the degree of biologically specific intervention about which you inquire. If you are looking for a good read in this area, however, you can read "The How Of Happiness" by Lyubomirsky, or "Learned Optimism" by Seligman (along with hundreds of other titles published in the last 10 years).
As for the intersection of psychopharmacology and life enhancement, this is a more "fringe" topic that would likely relate to the use of nootropics or so-called "smart drugs." Again, something I don't know much about.
As for identifying a qualified mental health, medical or other professional who can guide you through the areas about which you asked, I would suggest that you do some research in your specific locale, or try to secure some referrals from recognized experts and prominent organizations via the web.
Finally, I will note that it might indeed be most efficient and safe for you to first educate yourself about, and experiment with, the more established, empirically-validated techniques (those described above from Positive Psychology) before venturing into more speculative or invasive endeavors. There is little need to look for a zebra, when a horse is much easier to find and will therefore get you to your destination more quickly. Also, I did not address your motivation for pursuing knowledge in the areas you asked about; as a clinician, however, I would certainly want to better understand what changes or shifts in your life you are trying to achieve, and why you want to achieve them. Understanding the context of your goals and desires would be important in giving you ethical, effective guidance.
I regret that I cannot be of more assistance to you, I again thank you for teaching me something new today, and I wish you the best in your quest!
Richard E. Schultz, Ph.D.