The ability of MDMA to increase empathy and wellbeing makes it a powerful tool for therapy that can catalyze huge breakthroughs and lasting positive effects.
MDMA, popularly known as “ecstasy” or “molly”, is a synthetic psychoactive substance that was discovered in the early 1900’s. You’ve probably heard about MDMA in conjunction with rave culture and electronic music, but before that association ever began, psychotherapists were experimenting with MDMA and recognizing its huge potential in treatment for a variety of mental conditions. Today the healing potential of MDMA is being explored scientifically in the realms of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treating social anxiety in autistic adults, and easing end of life for terminally ill patients.
Ecstasy & Empathy
The effects of MDMA are a mix of mild visual hallucinations, increased sensory enjoyment, and feelings of bliss and wellbeing, along with traditional stimulant effects. As a tool for healing, one of the most significant things MDMA does is to increase empathy and reduce fear, which is one of the reasons psychologists are so interested in its therapeutic applications. Taking MDMA is not the therapy in and of itself; it is used to help subjects enter into a state that makes them more open to connecting meaningfully and sharing their innermost feelings – something that vastly increases the effectiveness of treatment.
As a powerful synthetic drug that is part stimulant, MDMA also has risks associated with its dosage and frequency of use. Because serotonin is released in large quantities during the drug’s duration, prolonged use in high doses can cause damage to the brain that results in serotonin deficiencies which can then lead to chronic depression. Recent studies, however, have shown that in proper doses, administered only a few times, this does not pose any significant threat or cause any measurable negative effects in cognitive function,1 and the positive effects that come with MDMA assisted therapy are quite profound.
A Powerful PTSD Treatment
One of the biggest areas of focus for new research on MDMA is its application in treating people who suffer from PTSD. Military veterans, victims of abuse, and those who have survived traumatic events can be crippled by PTSD, and the decline in quality of life may leave them susceptible to the risk of substance abuse, deteriorated relationships, loss of employment, or even suicide. An appalling 22 U.S. military veterans per day commit suicide2, often as a result of the unhealed trauma that PTSD causes, and it is high time we redoubled our efforts to help these heroes in need.
MDMA is a bright hope for PTSD treatment, and its ability to catalyze feelings of trust, empathy, and connection with others makes it perfectly suited for helping sufferers have breakthrough experiences. With its ability to help decrease fear, defensiveness, and paranoia, MDMA can help patients face difficult moments, open up with others to discuss them, and then come to peace about these moments, opening them up to a new outlook on life. Significant progress in these areas often takes only 1 or 2 sessions with MDMA, while conventional PTSD medication can be addictive, ongoing, and cause negative side effects. A single or small amount of sessions with MDMA is a wonderful alternative, offering an experience that is overall safer, more effective, and so profound its benefits last a lifetime.
- The safety and efficacy of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamineassisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study Journal of Psychopharmacology http://www.maps.org/research-archive/mdma/ptsdpaper.pdf ↩
- http://stopsoldiersuicide.org/ ↩