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How Silicon valley got hooked on psychedelics

Disclaimer: the author may not coincide with ideas of editorial. We do not advocate the use of narcotic substances. Storage and distribution of drugs in Russia is a criminal offence.

Every three days Nathan (name changed), a 27-year-old venture capitalist from San Francisco, swallows 15 micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide (known as LSD or acid). The micro dose of a psychedelic drug, which usually require at least 100 micrograms, gives a feeling of mild euphoria. Nathan says it, he feels much more productive in the office about what they like and dislike noone.

“This dose — my tasty vitamins,” he says.

For the first time, Nathan began to indulge in the microdozes in 2014, when he was working on a startup in Silicon valley. He crushed a pill of LSD, and put a small piece on the tongue every time he felt fatigue. His job was to find investors.

“Fundraising is, first and foremost, communication, perseverance and persuasiveness. All this is very energy consuming. The micro dose worked wonders: eating a pill, I felt like I was pushing the internal power button and then I became the sea knee-deep,” says Nathan.

According to him, investment of a business angel, he then managed to attract — is partly a merit of successful experiments with substances.

The effects of LSD were discovered by accident. In April 1943, Swiss scientist albert Hoffman mistook a small amount of chemical substances that he synthesized several years earlier and never tested. Three days later, he used as many as 250 micrograms of the drug and experienced the so-called “bad trip” that didn’t stop him from waking up the next day with the “feeling of freshness and well-being.” In the next decade, artists and representatives of high society used LSD for recreational purposes — the “elect”, for example, included the writer Aldous Huxley. But only in the 1960s, when San Francisco was mass production of LSD, a drug became in effect the emblem of the hippie movement and was the inspiration for their famous slogan “turn On, tune in, run”.

From the beginning lovers of new sensations and fighters for the prosperity of technology in San Francisco were inseparable. “Many engineers believed that there is a causal link between creativity and LSD,” recalls John Markoff, whose 2005 book “What the Dormouse” traces the development of the personal computer industry through the prism of the counterculture of the 1960-ies. In one research center in Menlo Park, more than 350 people, including scientists, engineers, and architects took part in the experiments by psychedelic drugs to understand how drugs affect their work.

Today San Francisco, it seems, is at the epicenter of a new trend — just like during the initial boom of fifty years ago. Business angel and writer Tim Ferriss said in 2015, in an interview with CNN that “almost all the friends billionaires use hallucinogens on a regular basis.” But only a few rich people agree to talk about it. The exception was Steve jobs: he often said that experiments with LSD have become an amazing experience and forever changed his life. In the biography by Walter Isaacson 2011 is a humorous quote Apple CEO that Microsoft would benefit if its founder bill gates not gate the nose of the hallucinogens.

Because in Silicon Valley people desperately want to be like Steve jobs, a wave of confessions and conversations about the first or regular experience. According to Chris Kantrowitz, the CEO of Gobbler for the creation of cloud storage and a new Fund investing in psychedelic research, three years ago people refused to speak on psychotropic substances. “Even if they did, then a big secret.” Now the opposite is true: it is difficult to find someone who never tried.

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Once in the body, LSD interacts with serotonin, a chemical compound of the brain that controls mood, dreams and consciousness. As soon as the drug gets to the brain (not an easy task), he captures the serotonin 2A receptor, explains Robin Carhartt-Harris, Professor at the Imperial College London. He deals with the description of the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, using the technology of brain scanning. 2A-receptor is most present in the cerebral cortex — the part where “lives” consciousness. One of the first effects of psychedelics like LSD, a “loss of identity”, says the Carhartt-Harris. That is why those who took the drug, saying that it was a mystical or spiritual experience.

Apparently, the drug also establishes a connection between isolated areas of the brain. Scans from the research of Carhartt-Harris, held jointly with the Oxford Foundation to Beckley, showing a riot of colours in the brains of volunteers on LSD — unlike those who took a placebo. In the normal state of the visual cortex processes the received from the external world images — but the volunteers who took LSD, it began to respond and other parts of the brain, as if people have experienced visions with my eyes closed. “Part of the brain becoming one, says Carhartt-Harris. Acting on a receptor of serotonin, the drug increases the excitability of the cortex. As a result, the brain becomes much more open.

Как Кремниевая долина подсела на психоделики

These four images show that LSD (the second line) in the visualization involved a much larger part of the brain than usual. People get images that actually do not see.

In an environment where intense competition is thriving — and that’s certainly the case in Silicon valley — where everyone is trying to think of the most creative, the ability of LSD to expand consciousness especially attractive. People are looking for ways to “hack” your body: everyone wants to be faster, higher, stronger and to conquer the world. One of the leaders of a small startup tells how one weekend they whole office the company took magic mushrooms, which allowed me to “reset the normal working of the barriers,” to talk “heart to heart” and to build “culture” of the company. (He refused himself the pleasure to participate — you need to make sure everyone has a great time.)

Young developers and engineers, most of whom are men, seem to particularly approve of this approach. Alex (name also changed), a 27-year-old

specialist processing and data analysis, takes the acid four or five times a year. According to him, psychedelics make it life’s horizon even wider. He says drugs is a way to take a break, when all around are going crazy.

Do not even have to go to various music festivals, where substances are trading on every corner — you can just gather a group of friends, rent a house in the suburbs and take with you brand or magic mushrooms. And there already “to get high”.

“I would not began to tell colleagues that snorting coke the night before. But on acid on the weekends — no problem,” says Mike (another pseudonym), 25-year-old researcher at the University of California in San Francisco, which regularly take LSD.

Supporters of the drug see it as something “worthwhile and useful” — if we are talking about yoga or cereals.

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The desire for spiritual enlightenment — and more in San Francisco- fueled by the desire to improve performance. Small doses — the product of just such an approach. Interest in them was first clearly evident in 2011, when Jim Fadiman (psychologist involved in the experiments in Menlo Park in 1960-ies) has published a book about psychedelic drugs and launched a dedicated web site. According to him, “technologically savvy and physically healthy youth willingly accepts substances in micro-doses, as it is interested in science, nutrition and chemical reactions of their own brain.” Small doses, he says, also help eliminate awkwardness in communication:

“I often cross paths with such people. Among them it is difficult to find someone who knows how to communicate with others”.

Paul Austin, another author of a book about micro-doses, travels, lectures on this subject in Europe and America. Many of the people with whom he Converses, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, and “digital nomads” who are looking for ways to make the gadgets work for yourself in the “new economy”. He says that the drugs that “make you think differently” is one of the ways of survival in the modern world.

Although no data on the number of supporters of micro -, as in the addiction studies about this, do not ask the community on the website Reddit, they are now about 16 million — ten times more than it was a year ago. People post information about their experiences, and most of them follow the advice of Fadiman to accept up to ten micrograms every three days or so.

“I swear I was quicker to think. Or maybe just have confidence in yourself — one way or another, now I have more strength and a full head of great ideas,” writes one user in response to the question of the relationship of intelligence and of micro.

“I became less suffer from ADHD (syndrome of hyperactivity with deficiency of attention), my concentration has improved” — echoes another user. He adds that “nothing bad in this habit there is — except, perhaps, excessive frankness”. “I can inadvertently offend the interlocutor with his sarcastic comments and condescending remarks,” he says.

In some countries there are legal substitutes for LSD, it is much easier mikrogeterogennye. Eric Eyvi — an employee of the Berlin-based company that developed the app for tracking the health status of women Clue — started taking small doses of 1P-LSD in April. 1P-LSD is the analogue of the standard LSD which still allowed in Germany. She took it in order to avoid jumps of mood, but quickly discovered that in addition to this it is easier to work. He helped her analyze the information and understand what is right for her body and herself. She began coming to work early in the morning, by 8 o’clock, when the body is still full of energy, and leave after lunch when fatigue accumulates.

“In the office, I now communicate more with colleagues. I’m not so concerned about the challenges of the future and failures of the past. Work is good,” she says.

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It is believed that LSD is not addictive. Although in people taking it regularly, gradually the tolerance, it does not require “fill the void” and gradually increasing the dose, in contrast to heroin and alcohol, the two most dangerous drugs. “LSD does not require supplements,” says Carhartt-Harris.

The influence of psychedelic substances is more abstract than that of other drugs — cocaine, for example, allows people to feel on top. Those who were satisfied with the hallucinogens, talking about feeling harmony with the world (they sit down on a vegan diet are beginning to reach out to relatives, etc.). Most people who take small doses of substances that claim that they have the habit but not an addiction.

“To drink coffee, want a Cup, says AVI. But to feel full, LSD is not necessary.”

She says that the pleasure of a nice “special effects” will soon be nothing more than a memory: she plans to give up LSD at the end of this year. Many say that even a microscopic dose has long-term effect. Often feel better on the second or third day after ingestion.

“I definitely felt the wave of creativity, but did not take LSD that day… Maybe this has a cumulative effect,” says Nathan.

The effect of taking small doses depending, inter alia, on your environment and type of work. It is not a panacea that will make everything instantly better. Since, as Nathan moved to the office with a predominantly artificial lighting, acid lost part of its magic, although he still uses it about every three days.

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The lack of medical research provokes the conviction that the micro dose of narcotic substance is a universal panacea, able to cure everything from depression and menstrual cramps to migraines and impotence. The only problem that people are not trying to solve with the help of micro is an anxiety disorder. Because LSD typically enhances emotions and sharpens the perception, it is likely that anxiety will only grow worse.

Without further research it is difficult to say whether so small a number of real psychedelic effect or is it just a placebo. It is also impossible to say for sure, give him small doses of any long-term negative consequences, such as dependence.

But understandable fear of LSD is still holding back people from mass consumption, so that soon fashion in small doses is unlikely to spread beyond Silicon valley.

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