Being Limitless: A Discursive Analysis of Online Accounts of Modafinil Use

Matthew Hall*, Mark Forshaw, Catharine Montgomery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Modafinil is a prescription-only substance in the UK for the treatment of disorders such as narcolepsy. Soldiers have also used this substance as an alternative to amphetamines in situations where they face long periods of sleep deprivation. More recently, the substance has become increasingly popular for enhancing cognitive performance, for example students taking exams. Modafinil is widely available on the Internet and is reported to carry a wide range of health risks and side effects if not taken with medical supervision. Given the tension between health risk and enhanced cognitive performance, how people talk about modafinil use becomes an important question. Drawing on discourse analysis, we focus in particular on how respondents work up accounts of their modafinil use as credible, authentic, and legitimate: A community of practice. Our analysis has clear implications for engaging (mis)use in health promotion interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChemically Modified Minds
Subtitle of host publicationSubstance Use for Cognitive Enhancement
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789811567711
ISBN (Print)9789811567704
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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