From Nazi Blitzkriegs to ADHD Treatment: What Stimulant Drugs Can and Cannot Do


From CounterPunch: “Early in World War II, the highly effective Nazi blitzkriegs were very much dependent on a Wehrmacht juiced up on the methamphetamine Pervitin. Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich (2015), quotes medical historian Peter Steinkamp: ‘Blitzkrieg was guided by methamphetamine. If not to say that Blitzkrieg was founded on methamphetamine.’

When humans are forced to be cogs in a machine—be it a war machine, a workplace machine, or a school machine—we need to become more machinelike, which can be expedited by some psychostimulant drugs. Commonly used legal psychostimulants are caffeine, nicotine, methylphenidate (including Ritalin) amphetamine (including Adderall), and methamphetamine, all of which may help us better attend to boring and unpleasant tasks. With caffeine and nicotine, we are likely to retain our emotional awareness; however, with methylphenidate, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, our angst or anguish can be eliminated—making these three drugs better suited to create efficient cogs in war, workplace, and school machines.

For the methamphetamine-fueled Panzer troops who overran Poland in 1939, Ohler reports that ‘the drug seemed to have helped the tank units not to worry too much about what they were doing in this foreign country, and instead let them get on with their job—even if the job meant killing.’ I’ve talked with many Adderall-fueled students and workers who tell me that this amphetamine and other ADHD drugs help them to better ‘stay on task’ by disconnecting them from their feelings, most importantly from their boredom and resentment—boredom with an uninteresting task and resentment about being forced to do it.

But are we giving psychostimulants to inattentive children and teens without evidence that these drugs actually help them in the long term? Certainly, we recognize that methamphetamines are even more potent and addictive than amphetamines such as Adderall and Vyvanse that are commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—so would one be crazy to believe that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a methamphetamine for the treatment of ADHD? Before answering these questions, some background as to why machine authorities are so enamored by anything they believe will make humans more efficient cogs in institutional machines.”

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  1. And one thing that the writer didn’t relate was the number of German general officers having heart problems about half way through the war, that chained the ones still intact to rear echelon duties that were less likely to kill them than field service, despite the chronic heart diseases they’d contracted.

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