Pills for the Psyche. Neuro-enhancement among psychiatrists, trainees and other doctors in the Netherlands – an explanatory study
background Psychotropic drugs are being used increasingly for the purpose of neuroenhancement. A survey conducted by Nature revealed that neuro-enhancing drugs were also being used quite widely by non-medical academics.
aim To investigate the extent to which psychiatrists and other doctors working in psychiatry in the Netherlands actually take neuro-enhancing drugs themselves, and to record their views on the use of such drug. The findings form a basis for an ethical debate about the use of neuro-enhancing drugs in the Netherlands.
method We transmitted an online questionnaire, based on the survey conducted by Nature, to as many as possible psychiatrists, trainees and other doctors working in psychiatry in the Netherlands.
results 11% of the respondents reported that they had occasionally taken neuro-enhancing medication without any medical reason in order to improve their own mental functioning. 66% of respondents felt that no-one should be allowed to take psychotropic drugs unless these have been prescribed for a strictly medical reason.
conclusion Compared to those who responded to the Nature survey, respondents to the Dutch survey seemed to have considerably more reservations about the private use of neuroenhancing drugs and seemed to be more critical about their use in general.