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Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:29 pm
A friend long ago was a king in the SP pit. Back when a handle was still $500. A rags (well, nice rags) to riches story. He ate Quaaludes as if they were M&Ms on a daily basis. A top step trader, who really couldn't have done much better... While I have no firsthand experience with such chemistry, those who do wondered how he could even stand up, much less function with such flawless precision.
I suppose It's an individual factor in the larger equation of what makes one a "trader". I don't believe there is one path to enlightenment, nor a one size fits all answer to this question.
Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:50 pm
My $0.02 worth: the use or otherwise of chemical aids-to-trading would seem to relate very directly to the personality type or physiological makeup of the individual, and would seem (assuming that a choice to take anything has been made) to further fall into one of two areas: drugs that are taken to enhance mental abilities or expand consciousness of the individual; and drugs that are taken to help the individual deal with stress.
The key here IMHO is that some personality types have no issues with taking drugs to help them deal with life more comfortably, while others (and I include myself in this group) can see no point in doing so.
On the Meyers Briggs personality types test I fall under the INTJ or ENTJ type (depending on the day), which in my case translates generally as an edgy, quick, lateral thinker with an inflated opinion of my own abilities that borders on pigheadedness and a complete disregard for authority in all its forms as well as any form of "common knowledge" or what has gone before. So I am essentially a prickly old bastard who doesn't care what others think or do as long as they leave me well alone to find things out for myself. For me, I don't care to take anything that might change that general physiological makeup because I find that it serves me well, and my limited dalliance with drugs back in the days when I was a professional musician and my observations of others under the influence at that time and since have convinced me that I do not want anything to alter the way that I currently am.
On the other hand I have worked with guys who are brilliant in their fields but for whom stress has been detrimental, and some of them have resorted to chemical enhancers and of those who have taken that path I have seen their previous brilliance become dimmer. They may have gained the ability to cope better with life but there was a definite cost.
As AFJ, I have developed a mental attitude that benefits me and my trading and that, along with some physical exercise, is all that I seem to need these days. One thing that I used to do to sharpen up my mind was an hour or so of basic aerobatics at altitude, that certainly clears the mental fog away. So: no chemicals for me, but I am only one man and I recognize that what works for me need not work for anyone else. This is a very individual choice, and should perchance a wonder trading drug become available I would wager that it would benefit some personality types far more that it would others, so there can be no one-size-fits-all solution.
So, and to answer Mr Hoffman's very interesting question: there are no doubt some drugs that would indeed enhance the abilities of some traders, but those very same drugs may equally be detrimental to other traders who have differing personality types and needs.
Re LSD - back in the day I watched some very bright young men drop a few tabs and over time they became comparatively dull young men, with their spark dimmed. But OTOH acid may very well have enhanced the creativity of a young Steve Jobs and no doubt others.
In Keith Richards' excellent bio he describes his use of heroin as a tool that allowed him to perform superhuman feats of playing and recording over many days without recourse to sleep, and he also acknowledges that it was merely a short-term solution to an immediate problem, namely a looming deadline for release of a record.
So there may well be a chemical aid-to-trading out there, but it will probably be a solution that will only work for some and almost certainly not for all.
Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:01 pm