Perhaps Eliezer was waxing poetic. It's his way.
But, seriously, if one is very depressed, it's probable that one's reasoning
is compromised. That's the reason I think one shouldn't mess around with
fixing severe mood problems on one's own.
You have no fixed frame of reference on which to base a judgement. Your
frame is liable to severely shift as the treatment alters your mood. And
these treatments can put you on a mood roller-coaster. A competent "other
party" should be involved.
I've seen reactions coming from people who have been treated with drugs that
interfere with the serotonergic; gabaergic; and dopaminergic systems. Even
under prescription and weekly outpatient monitoring, things all too often go
Uncontrollable violence (in extremely short flashes - in people you would
never think would be prone to such things); exacerbation of depression with
an hour or so of inadvertent withdrawal leading to determination to quietly
commit suicide etc.
Lists like "extropians" are public media; so caveats should be tacked on to
letters like Eliezer's - and, besides, I really don't think Eliezer's
semantic intent should be taken from the literal meaning of his words in
that particular letter. It must be taken in the context of his writing style
and his ideology. Both of which are matters of public record.
From: Michael M. Butler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, July 16, 2000 8:10 AM
Subject: Never "mess around", was Re: Fast-acting 5-HTP supplementation for
>That's not what Eliezer said. He said nothing about making an exception
>for "clinical" cases. And you shouldn't "mess around" with
>*electricity*, for heaven's sake! That stuff can *kill* you in
>*milliseconds*, you know.
>> Eliezer is right,
>> If you're not clinically depressed (and preferably professionally
>> as such by a good psychiatrist); don't mess around with the serotonergic
>> system. Don't mess around with the dopaminergic system (cocaine etc..) or
>> the glutaminergic system (DXM) either...
>> I suppose you're free to mildly tweak the cholinergic system - you get
>> smarter & live longer I hear (...well, at least if you're a mouse!).
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <email@example.com>
>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
>> Date: Saturday, July 15, 2000 9:59 PM
>> Subject: Re: Fast-acting 5-HTP supplementation for accute despair
>> >For those of you who may have joined the Extropians list recently, I'd
>> >just like to repeat my warning about tampering with the serotenergic
>> >systems: It may reduce your intelligence, blunt your creative edge, and
>> >otherwise screw up your mind.
>> >This warning based on personal experience, plus some post-facto
>> >rationalization and generalization.
>> >Besides, severe depression is good for you.
>> > firstname.lastname@example.org Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
>> > http://singinst.org/beyond.html
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