MDMA study shows optimistic outlook leads to positive psychedelic experience

Swiss study on MDMA looks at factors that influence a psychedelic response.

The psychedelic substance MDMA or ecstasy could benefit patients in psychotherapy. Danylana/Getty Images


A study on MDMA shows that factors other than dosage influence a person’s response to the psychedelic substance.

Specifically, results of a Swiss research indicate that a positive outlook prior before consumption leads to a pleasant experience.

Moreover, the study demonstrated that a negative attitude results in a disagreeable reaction to the synthetic drug.

In short, a person who demonstrates openness to a pyschedelic experience will likely go through a nice MDMA trip.

MDMA stands for “3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine”.

It works by releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Known as a party drug, MDMA goes by the names “ecstasy” or “molly” on the street.

Online, the federal government of Canada notes ongoing studies on the banned substance’s potential to treat certain mental-health conditions.

For instance, MDMA may be beneficial for patients with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Swiss researchers cited the same potential in their study published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology on March 30, 2021.

They wrote that the findings bear relevance for the therapeutic use of MDMA.

In the study, the investigators noted the value of increasing knowledge on “influencing variables” on responses to the psychedelic substance.

Specifically, it “could potentially not only increase the safety of the use of MDMA in research and psychotherapy”.

It could also “inform treatment planning in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy”.

For example, it could “help to set the environment and to prepare and select the patients”.

By doing this, therapeutic effects get increased, while the risk of adverse effects lessens.

MDMA gets different psychedelic reactions

Erich Studerus principally wrote the study titled ‘Prediction of MDMA response in healthy humans: a pooled analysis of placebo-controlled studies’. Studerus works with the Univeristy of Basel in Switzerland.

Patrick Vizeli, Samuel Harder, Laura Ley, and Matthias E Liechti co-authored the paper. They belong to the University Hospital Basel.

A total of 194 people received doses of MDMA as part of the research that looks at 20 variables.

These variables include physical factors like drug dose, body weight, sex, and the like. The researchers also looked at personality and mental states before drug intake.

The researchers related what happens to subjects with more “openness to experience”.

These people encountered, among others, more “oceanic boundlessness”.

To explain, oceanic boundlessness includes feelings of happiness and “oneness with the self and the world”.

Additionally, one feels a “liberation from the restrictive aspects of space and time”.

However, people who demonstrate conditions of “neuroticism” or “trait anxiety” before consuming MDMA had a different experience.

They encounter “dread of ego dissolution” and “impaired control and cognition” in response to MDMA.

Furthermore, the researchers reported what happens when a person has a higher score in “anxiety-depressiveness” or “introversion” immediately before MDMA intake.

This “increased the likelihood of anxious responses to MDMA”.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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