This 240 page book is a comprehensive look at the drug as seen by two
sociologists who started their project less than two years after
prohibition. Their style is authoritative and academic but easy reading,
covering very much the same aspects as this book. I would recommend it as a
present to a parent, teacher or anyone who may consider this book is biased
by my own enthusiasm.
The main differences are in that they cover American usage more thoroughly
(and even went to interview people involved in the Dallas scene), but have
less on the British and European current usage. The other difference is
that the book was already 10 months out of date when it appeared, time
which I saved by publishing it myself.
They start out with three personal accounts, each representing a different
type of user and how their experiences vary according to their expectations
and beliefs. Most of the rest of the book is based on 100 interviews with
Particular points worthy of note include:
Attitudes. One is that the drug 'does things to you', so that the effects
noticed are those of the drug itself. The other is that the drug allows the
user free expression, so the effects reflect aspects of the user's
personality that are normally suppressed.
Group experience. Some New Agers relate the MDMA experience to 'morphic
resonance', a term coined by Rupert Sheldrake, as though the E allows them
to tap into a field of cumulative collective experience. The forerunners of
Raves were Grateful Dead concerts that have been going ever since 1965, and
where a large number of people take drugs and feel a group-mind experience.
Acceptability. Ecstasy was used and accepted by straight people who saw it
as 'safe' or 'not a drug', particularly before it was prohibited. Several
examples of this are given, from the Dallas hedonists (who were well-off
young professionals) to New Agers who see the E state as real, not a stoned
Truth serum: "I believe it lowers your sense of fear and you fall in love
with yourself. When you do that, you're more willing to take risks, and one
of the risks is telling the truth". It enables one to speak the truth, but
does not prevent one from lying.
Sex. Prostitutes found MDMA helpful in creating a better atmosphere with
clients, and a topless dancer was able to accept and feel less abused by
gross behaviour, and to earn more tips as a result. Some people became open
to new kinds of sexual experiences.
Creativity. One person described MDMA as an artistic 'flavour enhancer' and
would use frequent small amounts to help study. A writer described how
Ecstasy allowed him to engross himself more in the content, and to allow
his description to flow more spontaneously.
Lasting effects. It was easy to integrate experience into everyday life.
The most frequently reported spiritual effect was a profound feeling of
connectedness with all of nature and mankind. It made marriage break ups
easier. A psychotherapist believed MDMA helped him to know himself better,
and therefore be more open with clients.
Bad effects. Recreational users seem to have hangovers, while therapeutic
users would value the 'afterglow'. Users who tried more than 200 mg
reported less good effects.
Addiction. Does not occur in long term. Although many users have binged,
the after effects put people off and frequent users find they need a break
to regain effects.
Toxicity. Fenfluramine has been approved for daily use although, at only
1.25 times normal dose, it produces a similar type of damage to MDMA
p.176 has a table comparing usage of various other drugs by a sample of 100
E users. In order of popularity, they are: Marijuana 96%, Cocaine 84%,
Psilocybin 82%, LSD 81%, Speed pills 66%, Mescaline 57%, Methamphetamine
48%, MDA 31% 2CB 24% and MDEA (Eve) 21%. The number who had quit usage was
also given, and showed that only 9% had given up MDMA while a higher
proportion had given up everyother drug: 15% Marijuana, 29% psilocybin,
44% Cocaine, 50% methamphetamine and 73% speed pills.
Another table asked users to say how much they liked various drugs on a
scale from 1 to 5. Taking means, the most liked in order were MDMA,
Psilocybin, Mescaline, 'other opiates', Caffeine, Marijuana, LSD and
Alcohol while Methamphetamine, Speed pills Tobacco and Cocaine scored much
Conclusion says the benefits experienced from Ecstasy can be seen as a
measure of how stressful and isolating our society is.