‘Rapid Progress': Controlling the Imperial Military With Drugs

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Fans of the TV program Star Trek: The Next Generation will recall a recurring antagonist named “Q” — a shape-shifting, quasi-omnipotent being who presumes to place humanity on trial for being a “dangerously savage child race.” During his first encounter with the crew of the 24th-century Starship Enterprise, Q assumes several guises from earth’s history to underscore what he considers to be the irremediable barbarism of the human race.

When Captain Picard objects that by the late 20th Century humanity was making “rapid progress” in overcoming its instinct for aggressive violence, Q morphs into what is described as a typical soldier during the “post-atomic horror” of the early 21st Century. The most notable element of his ensemble — which looks somewhat like a low-budget version of the “Stillsuit” worn by the desert-dwelling Fremen in the film version of Dune — is a drug-dispensing apparatus attached to the right shoulder.

“`Rapid progress,’” Q taunts Captain Picard, “to where humans learned to control their military with drugs.” He withdraws a slender cylindrical probe that is tethered to the drug supply by a retractable cord, inserts it into his left nostril, and inhales robustly. “Much better!” he exclaims as the drug takes effect.

Since the debut of the original Star Trek series in 1966, the franchise has anticipated or inspired many cultural and technological developments, including the personal computer and the cell phone. To that list could be added the concept of using an aerosol-delivered psychotropic drug to control the military.

The Indiana University School of Medicine has been awarded a $3 million grant “to develop a nasal spray intended to combat suicidal thoughts among soldiers,” reports Fox News. The project is headed by Michael Kubek, an associate professor of neurobiology who developed a neurochemical called TRH.

According to Kubek, “We’ve known since the 1970s that TRH has antidepressant effects, and it works quite rapidly…The bottom-line problem has been figuring out how to get it into the brain.” Until recently, the only effective method to deliver TRH was a spinal injection. However, Kubek — working in collaboration with scientist at Purdue and Hebrew University in Jerusalem — is devising a nasal spray that would deliver the “appropriate” dose over a period of time.

With suicide rapidly becoming the leading cause of death among those assigned to carry out the Empire’s global mission of redemptive bloodshed, officially sanctioned drug use is reaching unprecedented levels. Notes the Los Angeles Times: “After two long-running wars with escalating levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures recently disclosed…by the U.S. Army surgeon general. Nearly 8% of the active-duty Army is now on sedatives and more than 6% is on antidepressants — an eightfold increase since 2005.”

According to Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nasal spray being developed by Kubek wouldn’t replace conventional antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, but rather help “stabilize” the person who receives it while he waits for them to take effect.

This would probably require that the “patient” have constant access to the inhalant — perhaps by way of an apparatus that would be attached to the shoulder. The kind and thoughtful people who are developing this technology don’t intend to restrict that blessing to the military, but want all of us to partake of it.

“This is far from a soldiers-only solution,” Kubek predicts. “Potentially, if this works, we have an entirely new type of pharmacology.”

We can expect that the civilian beneficiaries of this suicide-prevention method would incude those put in government cages for the supposed crime of consuming other mood-altering substances without the State’s permission.


9:37 am on August 21, 2012