Many programmers use drugs

Cracked brain stimulation: LSD as a new recipe for creativity?

Recently, GQ revealed the latest (and slightly shocking) trend in Silicon Valley - microdosing. LSD is consumed in very small doses to encourage creativity. A trend to copy?

The cool kids of the Californian entrepreneur scene have recently started using microdosing. LSD is consumed in extremely small quantities to stimulate creativity

Even for someone like me, who was hanging out at underground raves in Silicon Valley in the 1990s, the news was unexpected: drugs as part of work culture or, strangely, as an accepted phenomenon of corporate culture?

The 90s in the Valley was an epic time, full of parties, drugs and very different party-goers: from Gen X performance-reluctants to retail slaves with minimum salaries to software developers, marketing managers and top managers. An extended “smoking break” at lunchtime was not uncommon, and a little acid made weekend team building events a little more fun. This confluence of work and pleasure was a dizzying form of rebellion.

Better brainstorming thanks to drugs?

Today the smart people of Silicon Valley are leading the new drug revolution, young people in their twenties like Ken and Steve. The two want to improve the performance and creativity of their team and are experimenting with low doses of psychedelics such as LSD or “magic” mushrooms containing psilocybin. The trend is called "microdosing" - while its effects are supposedly anything but small.

“Steve,” a tech entrepreneur who prefers to remain anonymous, was interviewed in 2016 for a series on At first he was skeptical about microdosing, but curious. However, further research would have taken his concern away, he says.

“I was surprised that LSD

  1. not addictive
  2. basically cannot be overdosed

Those were my two biggest concerns when I was using the drugs. Now I've decided to continue with this experiment (with reservations). "

Although he found that other prescription drugs were even better at improving productivity, Steve was happy with the results.

“I'm not a doctor and I can't recommend what to do to anyone ... but I'll continue microdosing LSD in the long run; I just have to find the right dosage and schedule for myself.

But by and large, who wouldn't want to be happier and more communicative? "

Microdosing - the healthy alternative to wake-ups?

Dr. James Fadiman, the legendary psychologist and author of the bookThe Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide,has compiled material and self-assessments from people around the world who have experimented with psychedelic substances on themselves. Most of these test subjects are from the San Francisco area. They are all extremely intelligent, extremely competitive, and looking for a way to outsmart the competition.

For people who are looking for new solutions to technical problems and want to be more innovative, microdosing is a "very healthy alternative to Adderall", the drug of choice for many programmers, which was originally developed as a means to combat poor concentration. According to Fadiman, the self-assessments of the test subjects are promising: the participants described relief from various disorders such as depression, stress, migraines and chronic fatigue that stood in the way of their optimal work performance. They were able to concentrate better or to immerse themselves in a project more than ever, as the “microdoser” Baynard reports. They overcame mental blocks and were then able to program better, like Karen. But, more importantly, they could "think out of the box," just like Papa Apple.

On risks and side effects ...

Even if we ignore the bogus anti-drug propaganda of the Nixon era at this point, there are still medical consequences that no one can explain away. Of course, there is someone here and there like David Nichols, professor of pharmacology at Purdue University, Indiana, who says it is "entirely possible" that microdoses of LSD could be stimulant - much like Adderall and Ritalin. The drug eventually activates dopamine pathways in the brain, which in turn stimulates the cerebral cortex. But for me, that's not enough to try.

In the end it comes down to: What do I want to achieve? And: what am I willing to do for it? People who “microdose” are usually just those who want to stretch their physical and psychological limits a bit anyway. Many of them may have come into contact with ADHD drugs at school or have experimented with “wake-ups” at university. With this attitude it is probably not that far anymore for microdosing.

So is microdosing the key to concentration and innovative ideas? Ken, Steve, Baynard and Karen think so. It would be smarter to wait and see what reliable medical tests say about this type of brain stimulation. To anyone who thinks the only way to keep the competition at bay is to take drugs, relax! Seriously. This is exactly how the doping problem got out of hand at the Olympics.

about the author

Carol Peitzsch has more than 25 years of experience in the business world - from Silicon Valley to Europe. She shares her expertise through different channels and gives marketing lectures at the EU Business School in Munich.