E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section
- 98 Can drugs enhance Psychotherapy? by Grinspoon and Bakalar,
from American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1986
- The authors say that compared to LSD, MDMA is "a relatively mild,
short-acting drug that is said to give a heightened capacity for introspection
and intimacy along with temporary freedom from anxiety and depression, and
without distracting changes in perception, body image, and the sense of
self". These effects should be of interest to Freudian, Rogerian and
existential humanist therapists, they argue.
- MDMA strengthened the therapeutic alliance by inviting self-disclosure
and enhancing trust. Psychiatrists suggested it was also helpful for marital
counselling and diagnostic interviews. Patients in MDMA-assisted therapy
reported that they were released from defensive anxiety and felt more emotionally
open, which made it possible for them to get in touch with feelings and
thoughts which were not ordinarily available to them. It was easier to receive
criticisms and compliments. A patient said that the major difference in
psychotherapy that included taking MDMA was "being safe. Nothing could
threaten me". A patient who found she was more in touch with her feelings
and could express herself more easily 18 months after her last MDMA session
is cited as evidence that MDMA has lasting benefits.
- The authors say MDMA may also help in working through loss or trauma,
supported by the following anecdote. A patient said that after a session
where she had grieved the loss of her boyfriend, she was surprised at feeling
pleased with herself for having grieved so deeply.
- Many MDMA patients claimed lasting improvements in their capacity for
communication, such as getting on better with marriage partners. Increased
self-esteem was also lasting.
- The authors conclude that many pre-industrial cultures use certain psychedelic
plants to enhance a procedure that resembles psychotherapy. MDMA was a far
more suitable psychotherapeutic aid to substitute for this than the true
psychedelics tried in the sixties.
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