Drugs that make you smart, but rob you of your creativity

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com


It was originally designed for narcoleptics, but clinical trials stumbled across something odd: if you give it to non-narcoleptics, they become smarter. Their memory and concentration improves considerably, and so does their IQ. There were no known side-effects, except – oh, thank you! – weight loss.

I hunted it down online. A week later, the little white pills arrived in the post. Within a few hours of a 200mg dose, I found myself gliding into a state of long, deep concentration, able to read a book for six or seven hours at a time without looking up. My mood wasn’t any different; I wasn’t high. It was like I had opened a window in my brain and all the stuffy air had seeped out, to be replaced by a calm breeze. On Provigil, I had the most productive month of my life, writing reams of articles. I didn’t notice any side-effects – until the third week.

At any given time, only a small amount of your brainpower is dedicated to the tasks immediately in front of you. The rest is working on other stuff – processing memories, your subconscious, your creative thoughts. But Provigil points all your mental guns forward. It deploys far more of your brainpower on to your direct task.

It’s great at first – but it has a cost. After a while, you realise that your mental life is oddly depleted. Creative thoughts don’t come to you any more. You are running on the imaginative store you built up before Provigil, and whizzing through it efficiently, but you aren’t inventing anything new. That part of your brain is undernourished. You feel fast and flat.