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MDMA as Relationship Therapy

mdma relationship therapy relationships Mar 28, 2018

Are you having trouble opening up to your partner? Does your partner's ego get in the way when he/she tries to open up to you? Is your relationship not as deep and fulfilling as you wish it was? MDMA can be a great tool. My partner and I call it "relationship therapy."

One of the primary human drives is the need for love. Most people look for love in romantic relationships. When we are in pain, feeling hurt, angry, or disappointed, we want love and understanding from our partner that affirms that we are valued. Knowing that our feelings and life matter to our partner helps satiate that need for love.

Empathy is one of the best ways we can practice that sort of love fulfillment. There are a few components to empathy. The first is active listening. This means that we don't just assume we know what our partner is going to say and wait for our turn to respond, it means listening to what our partner is actually saying and understanding THEIR perspective. Another is reserving judgment of what our partner is communicating. When we judge we can become dismissive of their feelings or worse, defensive- which causes us to cease listening. At that moment we put up walls. Finally, we offer comfort. Once we have shown our partner that we have heard what they were communicating, understand their perspective, and want to love and comfort them through their pain, love has been actualized and our partner will feel fulfilled.

One of the biggest enemies of empathy is ego. The ego is resistant to seeing things from the perspective of another person and always wants to make judgments to evaluate their feelings. This causes a feedback loop of defensiveness, passive aggression, anxiety and other negative emotions.

A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2015 reports that MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) helps people feel more engaged in their close relationships and better able to describe their intimate feelings.

During my last "relationship therapy session," aside from gushing to my partner about why I want to spend my life with her, I sent my brother a text message, letting him know how much I love and appreciate him. That may not seem significant unless you understand the guarded emotional environment in my family, specifically between the men. 

Study co-author Matthew Kirkpatrick told The Huffington Post. “I suspect you would see that couples would rate each other as being more emotionally responsive, they would feel closer to one another and they would engage in longer conversations about deeper topics.”

I for one can attest that this is true. Aside from fawning over each other, my partner and I get into some really deep conversation about aspects of our relationship we might be more hesitant to delve into normally.

35 people who have used MDMA participated in the study. Researchers recorded how they spoke about close relationships when under the influence of MDMA, as compared to taking a placebo. They found that participants used more insightful language, were more confident and better able to articulate their feelings when on the psychedelic.

“With MDMA, you get these really increased feelings of sociability and closeness with others,” Kirkpatrick told HuffPo. “When you’re on MDMA, you tend to focus on positive social-emotional stimuli, and you’re less reactive to negative emotional stimuli, such as fearful or angry faces.”

Oxford ethicist Brian Earp argues in a 2013 interview with The Atlantic that MDMA and other “love drugs” could help boost affection in long-term relationships and help people come to terms with tensions and contradictions.

MDMA has a way of increasing empathy in users, which as we discussed earlier is highly valuable in helping couples work out conflicts honestly and with sincerity.

The U.S. Federal government banned MDMA in 1985 and still considers MDMA a schedule 1 controlled substance, which they say means it has no medical value and is strictly prohibited.

For those who might be afraid of more dangerous side effects, other studies have shown that MDMA use is not associated with cognitive impairment as previously thought.

Several other studies are currently under way using MDMA to be used in other therapeutic treatments of anxiety in autistic adults and anxiety over life threatening illness. In other exciting news MDMA is being used in the final phase of an FDA approved trial to treat PTSD!

I want to give a shout out to the Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies for all of their amazing research on medical uses for psychedelic compounds!

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