The Null Device

Taking the drudgery out of lovemaking

Remember Melanotan, the wonder drug which promised to turn those who took it into a new dominant caste of tanned, chiselled, hyper-attractive übermenschen and überfrauen with superhuman sex drives? Well, it turns out that the drug company shelved it because it did too many things to be marketable, instead using the project to develop different products. The first of which is a "super-aphrodisiac" named PT-141 which produces instant sexual arousal, bypassing the need for time-consuming foreplay, and making sexual fulfilment a possibility for today's overworked wage-slaves and compulsive multitaskers who lack either the time or the attention span to do things the slow, old-fashioned way:
The five-minute meaningful sexual encounter: if ever there was a holy grail for the age of the tight-wired global economy - with its time-strapped labour force and its glut of bright, shiny distractions - that is it. And if ever there was a reason to be wary of the pharmaceutical industry's designs on the market for sexual healing, say critics such as Tiefer, it's the attractiveness of that simple-minded ideal.
Tiefer is just as dubious about PT-141, which, as she sees it, is merely the latest expression of a 'big wish' that 'we could just bypass everything we want to bypass' on our way to sexual happiness, skipping the complicated, often lifelong work of sorting out all the emotional, physical and autobiographical triggers that turn us off and on.
Good things would come of it, to be sure. Marriages would be saved, fun would be had. But sexual Utopia? PT-141 seems just as likely to usher in the age of McNookie: quick, easy couplings low on emotional nutrition. Sex lives tailored to the demands of a jealous office or an impatient spouse. A dark age of erotic self-ignorance tarted up in the bright-coloured packaging of a Happy Meal.
Of course, the next step that is needed is a drug that creates meaningful emotional bonding, of the sort that would take months if not years of laborious intimacy, in minutes. Just pop a pill before the speed-dating evening and, by the time the night is over, you will have acquired a soulmate. Think of the productivity gains that such an invention could usher in: no more need for dinner-and-movie dates, romantic weekends away or holidays together could translate into countless billions of extra hours either for productive work or economically beneficial consumption of entertainment products.

There are 7 comments on "Taking the drudgery out of lovemaking":

Posted by: The Neurocritic Tue Apr 25 18:23:39 2006

The "meaningful emotional bonding" drug just might be oxytocin, if you believe the studies reviewed here:

Carter CS. Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1998 Nov;23(8):779-818.

Since oxytocin is thought to increase trust, companies are already trying to profit from the "liquid trust spray", e.g.,

"Salespeople You can have the world at your fingertips. When people trust you they want to buy from you.."

...although its potential effectiveness has been questioned, given the relatively miniscule amount that would be absorbed by the wearer and the even smaller amount that would be absorbed by others.

Posted by: acb Wed Apr 26 08:51:41 2006

Would oxytocin by itself have the desired effect of converting strangers into soulmates in 15 minutes, or would something more sophisticated be required?

Posted by: Greg Wed Apr 26 12:58:01 2006


Posted by: acb Wed Apr 26 16:54:45 2006

Drinks companies such as Australia's CUB experimented with guarana-laced beer a few years ago, to capture the dance-clubber market. Perhaps oxytocin-enhanced beer (or vodka-and-food-colouring pre-mixed drinks) is next?

Posted by: The Neurocritic Thu Apr 27 01:23:36 2006

Well, that horrible company that markets oxytocin as the "liquid trust spray" is only targeting men:

# Meet more women because they trust you more # Get women who are "out of your league" # Increase your social status "The World's FIRST and ONLY product to attract women by getting THEM TO TRUST YOU. Made with pure Oxytocin – A hormone that is scientifically proven to make women trust you more."

SO women are out of luck in getting men to bond with them in 15 min.

Posted by: El Bizarro Thu Apr 27 05:12:41 2006

MDMA - works for me everytime. Shit, I once fell madly in love with someone for years after accidentally taking ecstasy around them.

Posted by: melanotan-afamelanotide Sat Sep 12 18:51:22 2009

Know that PT-141 goes by the generic name "bremelanotide" now. There's an interesting article in this month's Men's Journal about it:

There's an excellent article by Wired that is related to the melanotan peptides: <a href="">Suntan Drug Greenlighted for Trials</a>