Cryonics & psychopharmacology (Was: Our friend Sasha Chislenko is dead)

From: Chimera (
Date: Fri May 12 2000 - 07:20:15 MDT

> From: Damien Broderick <>

> Reading between the lines, I gather that Sasha took his own life. Even if
> he'd had cryonics arrangements in place, I wonder if that fact might have
> prevented any cryonics organization from fulfilling his suspension.

This could certainly have been a problem; even if the suicide itself
didn't cause massive head injuries (as would be the case with a bullet
through the brain, a fall from from a high building etc.) and the ischemic
period following it were relatively short, then there would still be the
problem of mandatory autopsy. In the best case this only means
some more warm brain ischemia, in the worst case it means that the
brain is cut up into little pieces for "investigation". Apparently this has
really happened to at least one cryonicist. Needless to say, such
procedures are completely barbaric just like the cremations and
burials that usually follow them. Anyway, it's always better to
freeze even a badly mutilated brain then allowing it to be completely
destroyed, if only for the peace of mind of the patient's friends &
family members. Even if current freezing techniques turn out
to be completely useless, which isn't very likely imo, this
peace of mind (for you and others) alone, as well as its
symbolic (spit death in the face) and aesthetic (burning &
rotting are so very primitive and disgusting) value make cryonics
the top "post-mortem" choice for transhumanists and civilized
persons in general.

BTW, are you already signed up, Damien? ;-)

> Some of us might find it easy to empathize with the bone-deep despair that
> can afflict a person, making suicide appear the only or at least the most
> plausible escape hatch. I suspect that quite a few people on this list are
> prey to such affliction from time to time, because it is exactly those who
> are clear-sighted, smart and hence (usually) somewhat alienated from the
> rest of society who simultaneously suffer this anguish while strenuously
> maintaining the need for dynamic optimism.

Hear, hear...It helps to have strong transhumanist beliefs, though
not always. In the end it's all about chemical (dis)balances, and
mental illness can smash even the most rational belief system
to bits. Fortunately, most of us can rely on good old cowardice
to keep us from suicide. Apparently Sasha was no coward...

> Probably the only way to guard against fatal attacks of despair is to live
> within a deeply connected community and/or family. Many of us are
> profoundly cut off from both. I would hope that we can find our way to
> develop such a caring community (and forgive me if, as a geographical
> outsider, I'm misrepresenting extropian and >H life in the States, Sweden
> and other places).

The planned cryonics community in Arizona is definitely a move
in the right direction. I hope it works out.

> But I also feel there needs to be some
> technically-mediated way for a person finding himself or herself in such
> wretchedness to step back for a while, allow the passage of time to do its
> healing (as it does, I know). Perhaps there are available drugs that do
> this without making you stupid and numb. I don't know of any, but then I'm
> fairly ignorant of psychopharmacology. Anyone here have anything to add to
> my blurry suggestion?

Before I became more or less chronically gay I used to smoke MJ
when I got down. Worked like a charm; the more depressed I was
before smoking, the better it worked. And, best of all, my good mood
would last long after the drug's primary effects had worn off. Days,
sometimes weeks or even longer. Also, MJ tends to get me mentally
and physically alert, not "dumb" and slow. Anyway, that's my
experience. It may not apply to everyone. Oh, and if you don't
like smoking you can always vaporize the stuff, of course.

I also have some good experiences with Kava Kava (Piper
methysticum). Its effects aren't as profound as those of MJ,
but it does provide good overall mental stability and stress
control. Unlike for example St. John's wort it has no (significant)
known side effects.

For more info about psychopharmacology
I'd recommend
For food supplements, check out

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