Why Not Try: Performance Enhancing Drugs

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Perhaps you've just put the finishing touches on a fourth quarter letter to investors that includes lines about being "disappointed," "clearly wrong in our judgment," and last year being notable for being "the worst in the firm’s history," and are freaking out about how you're going to turn things around in 2012. Or maybe you've spent every day since the financial crisis waiting to get fired, on account of not having made your firm any money and in fact lost it quite a bit, having only been spared because every time you receive an email from HR requesting to see you in the conference room, you've responded with an out of office message, but know that jig will soon be up. Or maybe you did get fired and have remained unemployed but feel confident that you could easily get a new gig, if only you could demonstrate during an interview that you could beat anyone there at an arm wrestling match, right here, right now. Or maybe you're a lady trader who knows you deserve more capital and could get it if only you could show the boss you've got balls, literally. If any of this is resonating, your prayers have been answered.

Until a few years ago, doctor Lionel Bissoon, who practises what he calls integrative medicine on Manhattan’s smart Upper West Side, mostly treated middle-aged women for what is politely known as cellulite. Then the financial crisis hit Wall Street and a strange thing happened: a stream of financial executives and traders began coming to him in the hope of being turned into alpha males. “Since the recession started, more guys want to be on top of their game,” says Dr Bissoon. “All of these men are under tons of stress, and stress will reduce their levels of testosterone. As one patient told me: ‘There’s a whole bunch of whizz-kids beneath me who are ready to take my place.’"

Dr Bissoon says that when he first started offering testosterone therapy, he thought most of his clients would be gym rats hoping to build Arnold Schwarzenegger-style physiques. “I was surprised that 90 per cent of my patients have some involvement in the finance industry,” he says. “They are upper-level management and most of them are in their 30s and 40s.” They typically complain of exhaustion after working Stakhanovite hours, an inability to focus and a general malaise about work. While some argue that too much testosterone, machismo and aggressive risk-taking are partly to blame for the financial crisis, many Wall Street workers ap­parently believe similar traits will give them the competitive edge to survive the downturn. With thousands of jobs expected to be shed within months, Dr Bissoon says that there is a pervasive fear among his patients that individuals who do not outperform will be summarily replaced.

Take John, a 40-year-old executive at a venture capital firm, who asked that his last name not be used. He went to Dr Bissoon feeling lethargic and unable to handle the 12-hour working days common at his firm. His regular doctor told him he was probably stressed out and depressed and should take antidepressants, which he felt did not adequately address his problem. “Wall Street is a play hard, work hard environment,” John says. “I now have a bit more of an alpha male personality, and I’m able to get by on less sleep. It’s the positive side of aggression. You change your mentality and start looking positively at the future.” Dr Bissoon says he even has a number of female patients from Wall Street who take testosterone because they want to appear more confident. They get much smaller doses than men because there is a risk they might grow facial hair or display other male characteristics.

According to Bissoon, T injections allow men and women to "focus more clearly" and "exude confidence on the job," which is 99% of the battle. “If you’re going to be trading on Wall Street or dealing with large sums of money, you had better be confident,” he says. “The man who is wishy-washy is not going to be successful.” Obviously, there are some people who would violently disagree with the doctor, but why not at least give it a shot? What's the worst that could happen?

Keep taking the testosterone [FT]

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Are your pants getting a little tight? Have you become convinced mirrors have a personal vendetta against you? Are you too distracted by the rolls spilling over your pants to trade? Do you find yourself veering off course in your letters to investors to talk about your love handles? Is it only a matter of time before you lose your firm billions and/or take down the entire market because your fingers are so big they span four keys each on the keyboard? Do you want to do something about it but are repulsed by the idea of healthy eating and exercise and also know yourself well enough to realize that there is no way you're going to be able to stay strong if everyone around you is eating delicious fried food at lunch and sooner or later you, a usually pretty mild-mannered guy, will be leaping across a row of Bloomberg terminals and threatening to kill a coworker (and meaning it) unless he hands over Ho Ho now? Then round up your tubbiest colleagues and tell them they're in for a real treat. Eric Helms, who founded the four-year-old Cooler Cleanse company with the actress Salma Hayek, says office cleansers now make up 30 percent of his business, and in the last year he has hired three customer-service employees just to handle the details of them. He said there has been a “huge increase in popularity” of cleansing with co-workers in the last year, which he credits to juice diets being more mainstream. “Everyone knows someone who’s done one, and they realize they’re a lot easier to do with colleagues during the workweek,” he said. “People want to indulge” — not sip celery — “on weekends.” Recent six-juice-a-day-dieters include employees at Merrill Lynch and the Carlyle Group, she said. In May, Citigroup began offering BluePrintCleanse in some of its Manhattan cafeterias, a spokeswoman said...About two-thirds of cleanse clients over all are women, but corporate cleanses “commonly skew toward men, especially traders, investment bankers and lawyers,” said Jina Wye, director of sales and marketing for BluePrintCleanse, founded in 2007 by two former Hudson Hotel bartenders looking to swap their poisons. (Mr. Helms said 90 percent of his male customers are part of groups.) Ms. Wye said: “These Type-A men have an all-or-none perspective. If they’re going to commit, they do it whole hog.” Most popular among male en masse cleansers: the Excavation cleanse, described on the Web site as “the most intense.” And if you want to really crank things up a notch, consider gauging interest in a group colonic to top things off. Cleansing From Cubicle To Cubicle [NYT] Related: I’m afraid I might tell her to buy a gun and just shoot me before the fat and the cellulite strike again.