A thought experiment on becoming one's own guinea pig

I'm sorry in advance for the long post. I respectfully expect a whole lotta tl;dr's ... by all means, knock yourselves out if it's the only thing you can think of, i definitely deserve it.

I know human test subjects are a big hairy issue and we must all do what's best in the name of good ethics, but i also think that context is important. This post is about a possible context i thought of that I just can't shake off so easily with a reflex for the standard "good ethics" approach we must all have with regards to the subject of biohacking

Mr. SWIM is a 40 year-old man with a history of depression. After careful diagnosis from mental health professionals, the depression appears to revolve around a dissatisfaction with his place in life and his dreams being impossibly out of touch with reality, rather than a case where he would normally have every reason to be happy were it not for chemical imbalance:

Economic precarity, social isolation, impossibly excessive and unrealistic daydreaming, issues that have daunted him for the better part of his adult life and will continue to do so, whether he takes his daily dose of happy pills or not, and he made a point of discontinuing their use every time he was prescribed them, the last time he did that was years ago, so possible withdrawal isn't the issue right now....

Mr. SWIM has considered ending his life for a very long time, he has no spouse or children that will grieve if he does and the work he does for a living is menial and trivial...

Mr. SWIM would like to be a pioneer in experimental nootropics by experimenting on himself, even if he knows he has a better chance of dying from a horrible migraine brought on by a brain tumor than actually succeeding in positively enhancing his brain. He believes in the right to take his own life but wishes to do it in a constructive way that helps science, even if the only thing he can teach the world is one more lesson in what not to do. He believes that scientific triumph stands atop a mountain of corpses borne of previous failures and he thinks, given his state of mind, that it's better to be one more to the pile that honestly tried to be at the top than stand idly by the mountain as a passive spectator.

What would you tell Mr. SWIM?


  • I'm gonna regret this, but it's all hypothetical, right?

    Swim should probably start altering his place in life, not altering his brain chemistry with different chemicals than the aforementioned happy pills and potentially harming himself. Swim seems to have given you some conflicting information. He is either dissatisfied with his place in life and quality of life, or he has a chemical imbalance. The story changes from sentence to sentence. Swim doesn't care about his job and has no close personal connections. Based of your info, I bet Swim doesn't get out much? Maybe doesn't eat well or regularly?

    Swim seems to be not at baseline for healthy life and therefore it is very difficult to make a statement on why he would be feeling unwell beyond lack of a personal life and lack of life satisfaction. Cyclical maladaptive behavior is cyclical. Maybe Swim needs a change of pace, that isn't pharmacological in nature.

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