Researcher Rick Doblin optimistic about future of psychedelic drugs

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 18:57 EDT
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The founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) believes research on MDMA, known commonly as the club drug ecstasy, could lead other hallucinogenic drugs to gain medical acceptance.

“I think MDMA is going to be the psychedelic that leads the way towards opening the door to other psychedelics, because they’re more challenging,” Rick Doblin said in an interview. “And so just the way that MDMA can help the individual deal with a past trauma, MDMA can help our society deal with the trauma of the sixties” when the drugs were abused and outlawed.

Psychiatrists had experimented with psychedelic drugs like LSD in the 1950s and early 1960s, but research ground to a halt after the drugs were declared illegal. Over the past decade, medical researchers have slowly begun to renew interest in psychedelics.

Recently published MAPS-sponsored research found that MDMA could be a viable treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Another group of researchers, based at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, have found that psilocybin — the active compound in so-called magic mushrooms — could help terminally ill cancer patients cope with death-anxiety. Yale researcher discovered the drug ketamine could immediately alleviate symptoms of chronic depression.

Doblin explained that researchers are currently using MDMA to treat PTSD in war veterans and victims of sexual abuse. He said MDMA was more acceptable as a therapeutic tool because it was “gentler” than psychedelic drugs like psilocybin or LSD, which can produce profound and incomprehensible alterations in consciousness.

“MDMA doesn’t really affect people’s ability to think clearly and cogently, but it profoundly opens the emotions, and particularly helps people look at difficult emotions in a more peaceful way.”

Though MAPS is oriented towards practical goals, like researching the therapeutic use of MDMA, Doblin has an ambitious vision for his organization: integrating psychedelics into American culture.

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by Alexander Wand, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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