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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

E for Ecstasy.

Saunders, Nicholas. (1993).
London: Nicholas Saunders, the author.

ISBN: 0-9501628-8-4

Description: Paperback original, vi + 319 pages. The cover is silvery holographic paper composed of small squares with the title embossed.

Contents: 14 chapters, 7 appendices: A. Reference Section, B. Personal Accounts, C. Human Rights and the Use of Drugs, D. Annotated Bibliography, E. Research Projects in Britain, F. Sources of information, G. Glossary of Terms, index, order form.

Excerpt(s): In 1992 researchers in the US attempted to identify the effects of MDMA in psychological terms through studying its effects on psychiatrists. The psychiatrists' experiences varied, but apart from losing track of time, the most commonly noted effects were that they related to other people more openly with less fear of defensiveness. Half said the drug had a lasting positive effect on their `social/interpersonal functioning', and nearly half mentioned changes in their spiritual outlook and values. (page 19)

It is also claimed that MDMA has some spiritual effects. Recently Alexander Shulgin told the story of a Japanese poet who tried MDMA and said: `It has taken twenty years of studying Zen for me to reach this clarity, but I'm glad I did it my way'. A Benedictine monk at a monastery in Big Sur, California, tried to see if MDMA could aid meditation, and concluded that the drug `facilitated the search by providing a glimpse of the goal', but that it did not replace the hard work required. A healer claimed that she saw a client's aura brightened by MDMA, and there are many reports of people becoming more spiritually aware. (page 20)

According to an article in the American Journal of Psychotherapy, the effects of MDMA-heightened capacity for introspection along with temporary freedom from anxiety and depression-`should be of interest to Freudian, Rogerian and existential humanist therapists'. It is said to strengthen the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client by inviting self-disclosure and enhancing trust. C lients in MDMA-assisted therapy report that they lose defensive anxiety and feel more emotionally open, making it possible for them to get in touch with feelings and thoughts which are not ordinarily available to them.

Psychiatrists also suggest MDMA is helpful in marital counselling by making it easier to receive criticisms and compliments. `There's less defensiveness between us and more leeway for diversity', observed an ex-client. Long-lasting and increased self-esteem was also reported by clients. Greer says that another use is working through loss or trauma, because the issue can be faced and accepted instead of being shut away through fear. (page 85)

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