Ecstasy-assisted psychotherapy is bringing peace to people with PTSD


Michael Walsh

Reporter, Yahoo News

Ed Thompson’s first experience with MDMA — better known by its street name, Ecstasy — was in an old house that had been converted into a peaceful therapist’s office with skylights. A far cry from the Dionysian abandon of a rave, the environment mimicked a comfortable living room, but for the cameras and microphones recording his session for a study that holds the promise of a treatment for the often-intractable condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

After swallowing a capsule of MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), Thompson lay down on a futon, put on an eye mask and felt a wave of empathy and forgiveness wash over him. He opened up to a psychoanalyst about traumatic experiences in his career as a firefighter that he had suppressed. Those topics had been simply too painful to broach before. Not anymore.

“I remember calling my wife and telling her — for the first time in years at that point — I had hope that I could be myself again. I had ‘re-witnessed’ the person I am, the person she married, and thought I might be able to come back. All hope wasn’t lost as we had expected at that point,” Thompson, 32, told Yahoo News.

He was participating in a phase 2 clinical trial to see if MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could help military veterans, firefighters and police officers with severe PTSD. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit based in Santa Cruz, Calif., sponsored the randomized double-blind pilot study for 26 patients with PTSD. Thompson said the process brought a sense of grace and understanding: “It was a world-opening experience.” Read More

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