Billionaire Elon Musk’s increasingly erratic behavior and decision making may, according to some people close with him, be due to an alleged increase in ketamine use.
In Ronan Farrow’s sweeping and detailed look into the current Muskworld palace intrigue for The New Yorker, one choice tidbit stood out: those close to the billionaire’s orbit are concerned that as he continues to pile more onto his plate, he may be self-medicating, and that the horse tranquilizer-turned-recreational-and-therapeutic drug may be what he’s turned to.
As Farrow notes, there’s been increasing chatter — including from Musk himself — suggesting the world’s richest man is, at the very least, interested in the drug’s therapeutic effects.
Though he has declined to comment on the story, the SpaceX and Tesla owner did not, as the report notes, deny that he has used ketamine, and after the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this summer that multiple people had seen him use it, he tweeted in apparent support of the drug.
“Depression is overdiagnosed in the US, but for some people it really is a brain chemistry issue,” Musk tweeted. “But zombifying people with SSRIs for sure happens way too much. From what I’ve seen with friends, ketamine taken occasionally is a better option.”
Though they were not named, associates of Musk’s told Farrow that he has begun taking more ketamine in recent years, which could account for some of the stranger decisions he’s made, especially as they relate to his chaotic ownership of the social network formerly known as Twitter.
Indeed, as ketamine researcher Amit Anand told The New Yorker, prolonged use of “special K” can indeed have effects on one’s personality and thought processes.
“A little bit of ketamine has an effect similar to alcohol. It can cause disinhibition, where you do and say things you otherwise would not,” the researcher said. “At higher doses, it has another effect, which is dissociation: you feel detached from your body and surroundings.”
“You can feel grandiose and like you have special powers or special talents,” Anand added. “People do impulsive things, they could do inadvisable things at work. The impact depends on the kind of work. For a librarian, there’s less risk. If you’re a pilot, it can cause big problems.”
To be clear, delusions of grandeur and showy risk-taking are part and parcel of Musk’s whole deal. But if that’s being stoked by ketamine use — or abuse — that would be bad news for everyone caught in the billionaire’s outsize wake.
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