Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I'm glad this guy wrote this up.

Now I have no desire to get off the spectrum.




I had a (medication induced) experience similar to the author's, with similar perception of radical changes in the motivations/intentions of my coworkers and friends, but mostly I remember it being like bright light was turned on in a dim room, my new awareness of others emotions changed a lot of my assumptions about their thoughts, the effects lasted a few days.

I'd rather be more in tune with reality, if new technology (or older ones like psilocybin or lsd) can provide this, sign me up.


TMG had a similar effect on me after taking it for three months. The effect was repeatable for others in my extended family.

The effect initially was a very intense feeling of being connected with everyone. The intensity faded over time but the effect still remains. For example I actually enjoy small talk.

After some reaearch I believe that TMG facilitates the breakdown of tonic dopamine (background dopamine outside of neurons) and high levels of tonic dopamine relative to tonic serotonin suppress the release of oxytocin.

LSD is serotogentic and may work in a similar way by stimulating serotonin receptors and simulating raising the level of tonic serotonin vs dopamine.

Oddly people on SSRIs complain about reduced empathy as a side effect so there may be a U shaped curve or something else going on.


Wow. you just gave me the rights clues to a theory I have about myself and childhood and stuff.... "learned Aspberger's" if you will. Can you post more, please?


Once a neurotransmitter is released it will continue to activate receptors until it is scavenged either through active re-uptake or enzymatic degradation. While the brain is a pretty efficient scavenger of neurotransmitters it isn't perfect and neurotransmitters that aren't scavenged continue to randomly activate receptors and diffuse out of the synaptic cleft. A neurotransmitter that is part of an pulse is called phasic while a neurotransmitter that is awaiting degradation is called tonic.

It was surprising to me that these tonic neurotransmitters have an active role in the brain. Their random activation of receptors on the receiving neuron make it more sensitive, putting it on a hair trigger if you will. The random activation of auto-receptors on the sending neuron inhibit further neurotransmitter release. And when these tonic neurotransmitters diffuse out of the synaptic cleft they can sensitize other neurons nearby or even trigger cell death (in the case of glutamate)

The way that I like to think of it is that a phasic neurotransmitter carries an immediate signal while a tonic neurotransmitter carries a longer term record of phasic activity.

MAO and COMT are two important enzymatic pathways for enzymatic degradation. MAO degrades norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine while COMT degrades norepinephrine and dopamine. COMT operates by attaching a methyl-donor to the neurotransmitter which is donated by SAM-E. With some consumer grade genetic testing I discovered that I had a defect in betaine homocysteine S-methyltransferase (BHMT) which is one pathway to recycle SAM-E. Supplemental TMG, also called betaine, simulated more BHMT activity for me.

My guess is that lower levels of SAM-E had the effect of elevating tonic dopamine and norepinephrine relative to serotonin by plugging one of the drains.


Splitting this into two replies...

In the popular press dopamine was known as the pleasure or reward neurotransmitter because of its associating with drug addition but with new research that view is slowly changing. While drugs like cocaine or meth produce euphoria research has also shown that dopamine is also released in response to unpleasant stimuli like stubbing your toe or the near miss at the roulette table. My view, which is shared by some researchers, is that dopamine is primarily involved with the salience, or whats important, about an object or situation.

For example, walking down the street the sudden appearance of an aggressive dog or stumbling on gold coin would trigger the release of dopamine and norepinephrine. The release signals to the rest of the brain that something important has happened and to pay attention (focus). The release also simulates memory formation and learning and it makes us slightly less empathetic. It also deactivates sensory suppression and makes us more aware of our surroundings and puts puts movements on a hair trigger. All of which probably facilitates survival.

However in my case the compromised ability to break down dopamine and norepinephrine via the COMT pathway left that system always on. While this contributed to some of my strengths only retrospectively do I now recognize that there were downsides. Enhanced memory formation and learning also means never forgetting and intrusive thoughts in vivid detail an awkward social situation a decade ago. Heightened sensory awareness means that you can't filter out somebody tapping in the next cube or unfamiliar clothing. Twitch like reflexes compromise fine motor skills (like handwriting). And while reduced empathy can help slice through the politics to "do the right thing" it is pretty much a downer in every other way.

Looking back there are also some other things that I can now see with more clarity. I believe that the brain uses the relative levels of tonic dopamine versus tonic serotonin to measure the levels of wanting (or desire) versus getting (or consummation) which I think is the brains proxy for social status. My compromised COMT pathways resulted in my perception of always being subordinate in any work or social situation. Other than the obvious it has some other subtle side effects including an exaggerated sense of justice and rapid escalation of a perceived threat. This seriously hampered career advancement for a long time because it ruled out a leadership role to other people.


That would be cool to be able to turn it on temporarily. After hearing about this guy's experience, I definitely wouldn't want it turned on permanently.


May I ask what medication triggered this experience for you?


Amanita muscaria.


I don't think it would be as intense for a long period of time. He effectively got a new sensory capability and it was all new to him, but he didn't understand how to processes it for a while. It appears to be useful to understand social situations, so it may be worth considering.

There's was no mention of the warmth you feel when someone who loves you genuinely smiles at you. It's rare, but a great feeling.


And you'll never experience what it's like to infodump about a special interest to someone who shares it, or the joys of stimming. Oh, and if you're lucky like I am, a reading speed of 1,000-2,500 words per minute easy, and sometimes a lot more. Social situations can be navigated by conscious training, as can emotion recognition and acting sympathetically.

My life isn't worse, just different. I meet friends online, including lovers. I like being who I am, and don't want to be someone else. Granted, I'm the good outcome: there are a lot of bad outcomes associated with autism at the severe end, and everyone would like to see those stop happening. But the big problems for a lot of people are social acceptance and low expectations.


Magnetic stimulation isn't going to radically change your entire brain. As I understand it it just changed that one symptom of autism by stimulating a single brain area. As I understand it the treatment is temporary, so it's not like you have to stay that way if you don't like it.

And if I could experiment with inducing autism in myself I totally would. I'm going to research this treatment more because it sounds totally fascinating and I'd love to experiment with it.


"if I could experiment with inducing autism in myself I totally would"

You can. You distance yourself from people, suggesting yourself over and over that you don't really need much social interaction, communicate with people only outside perceptions and feelings and the entire world around you starts to change. Each time you'll catch yourself analyzing emotions you'll stop due to its error-prone nature and switch to analyzing facts and social mechanics. There are of course many other things but this should do for a start.

My belief is that emotions were a capability developed in social creatures to cope with social intricacies given the limited rational capabilities. Emotional behavior is a kind of mechanisms to produce simplified response out of vast amounts of information that had to be processed fast (and not necessarily in great detail). Things changed a lot since then and nowadays the game-of-life competition includes a lot of gimmickry which relies heavily on exploiting emotions¹! The said autistic nature may be as well the direction in which the entire humanity is heading to.

¹ This started long ago before Edward Bernays and it will get more and more intense with time.


I have taken this approach myself, to some extent, but I'd advise a more mixed approach to those who are interested in trying this.

I've spent most of my twenties pursuing social interaction because I felt that I should and that it would be healthy. I even had a few girlfriends, which was all kinds of agonizing. At the end of my twenties I 'took a break'. To my surprise I discovered that I felt so much happier with a life that, too outsiders, was lonely and sad. The 'break' became a new way of life for me.

However, first of all I don't regret pushing myself to socialize. I learned many skills that I feel I wouldn't have learned had I not pushed myself. I can be comfortably normal when I need to, and that gives me many advantages.

Second, even though I'm quite happy being mostly alone, I definitely notice that I a more healthy person if I force myself into some social interaction (including deeper personal and emotional connections).

For me it's a bit like eating. Much of the time I don't really eat well or enough unless I force myself to. But when I do, I have more energy and and a better general sense of well-being. Similarly, when I forego socializing and/or fostering some deeper emotional connections, I have a tendency to spend way too much time thinking about unimportant things, I forget to properly verbalize or structure my thoughts into something 'worthwhile', and my rhythm and structure disappears, including normal sleep. Even minimal interaction with others in the form of flatmates or meetups significantly alleviates much of the bad stuff.


Well I already do that pretty much. I would not recommend it. Social interaction can be very rewarding, sometimes.

I don't agree with your spock like view of emotions. As if they were the enemy of the rational. You can be rational and emotional. They are orthogonal.

I think of emotions are sort of a utility function. They tell you what you want. Rationality just tells you how to get what you want. They complement each other. Without emotions there'd be no point in doing anything.


"Without emotions there'd be no point in doing anything."

This is a mantra supported by the (still) majority of our current society. I presume that people who believe it don't really bother to investigate other beliefs or if there might be another base for "doing anything". To give you a hint, "emotion" and "feeling" are not the same (and "feeling" is more than "sensation"). For example, curiosity made you want to learn about the world around you and logical (mental) stimulation is the expected reason for wanting challenge and accomplishment. Emotions are just another kind of mental stimulation, one that (as I've mentioned before) played out its role and become a liability for far too many.

As a side note, when you'll drop again references in the future, don't make it too hard for your audience to pick them up. As a non-native English speaker it wasn't obvious to me that "spock" is a character (whose name I would have capitalized) instead of a less used word.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: