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[Contents][Appendix 1]
[Reference 134][Reference 136]

E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders

Appendix 1: Reference Section

135 Interview with Dr. Debby Harlow, 30/10/93

As newly qualified psychologists, Dr. Harlow and a friend first tried MDMA at a conference at Esalen when it was still legal. They were both amazed by the clear view that it gave them of their own psychology and by how easy it was to express to one another what they saw. They talked enthusiastically about its potential as a therapeutic catalyst. In later practice, until it was made illegal, she administered MDMA to over 200 clients without any bad reactions whatsoever, though she did screen out 'borderline' cases, ie people without clear boundaries between reality and imagination or those having fantasies about the therapist. Most of her clients were 'normal' people, those who could manage a normal life but wanted to 'grow'. Another licensed psychotherapist who started using MDMA with clients in the early 80s became disillusioned by his role as a therapist, believing it was the MDMA alone that benefited clients. He followed his conscience by becoming a dealer, selling MDMA and explaining how to use it as a better alternative to psychotherapy.

Dr. Harlow was involved in the movement to try to prevent MDMA being made illegal.

She undertook research into MDMA at the university of Cambridge (USA), though eventually that was curtailed by the change in the law. Some of her research involved using the Rorsach ink-blot test. Volunteers' cognitive aspects remained the same with the exception that some subjects spontaneously made connections between images seen on the ink blots and their own self, demonstrating a unique quality of the drug. For example, a subject saw an image as "Father about to hit me when he was drunk", bringing back a forgotten memory. By contrast, on hallucinogens this test shows very different cognitive aspects.

Dr. Harlow also did work with Jerry Beck for NIDA on the use of MDMA in a wider context.

Dr. Harlow suspects that excessive use of MDMA suppresses the immune system.

She is critical of the neo-Reichian use of MDMA because of its analgesic properties, and thinks that 2CB is much better for body work it does not suppress pain.

She sees the best use of MDMA for "re-patterning dysfunctional object relationships" - usually transferring one's childhood relationship with parents to others later in life. Examples are 'having to please' in relationships, or having to revolt against others in order to define oneself.

Asked what she thought about self therapy using MDMA, Dr. Harlow believes that a helper is essential to accept, listen, acknowledge and give the support of unconditional love to the client, but not to control the session. It is easier to emphasise if the helper is also on MDMA, but it is not necessary. She suggests that MDMA could well be used in co-counselling-type sessions, where two people take turns at being therapist and client. Another use of MDMA is as a 'gateway' drug to psychedelics, as it clears up fear problems.

She feels very sad that the benefits of MDMA have been lost by prohibition.

[Contents][Appendix 1]
[Reference 134][Reference 136]
E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders (
HTMLized by Lamont Granquist (