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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

Ecstasy: The Clinical, Pharmacological and Neurotoxicological Effects of the Drug MDMA.

Peroutka, Stephen J. (Editor). (1990).
Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

ISBN: 0-7923-0305-9

Description: First edition, xvi + 244 pages.

Contributors: Efrain C. Bakalar, George Beck, Lloyd DeSouza, Graeme P. Gibb, George Grinspoon, Glen R. Johnson, Anita A. Meltzer, Kalpana M. Nash, David E. Oberlender, Stephen J. Peroutka, Christopher J. Schmidt, Alexander Stone, Vicki L. Tolbert, Patricia M. Whitaker-Azmitia, Robert Zaczek.

Excerpt(s): MDMA appears to be most popular in particular urban areas possessing established distribution networks for the drug. Its use has been associated most commonly with college students, gays, yuppies, and "New Age" seekers of psychological and/or spiritual growth. A typical dose ranges from 100 to 150 milligrams and costs between 10 and 25 dollars.

Although many respondents in our study consider MDMA to be a "drug of choice," they offer radically different points of view regarding its perceived value. On the one hand are those who see "Adam" as a valuable therapeutic and spiritual tool. Many of these individuals pursue "New Age" spiritual directions and, with the exception of other psychedelic experiences, often report little use of other substances. On the other extreme are those who seek the acclaimed euphoria and sensuousness associated with "Ecstasy." These individuals tend to have substantial experience with a wide array of psychoactive drugs and find that MDMA provides many of the qualities previously sought in other substances (e.g., cocaine). Although extremists on either side often have great difficulty understanding the other, the vast majority of users fall somewhere in between, sensing and often pursuing both "therapeutic" and "recreational" benefits in their experiences. (pages 87-88)

If entactogens are a distinct pharmacological class, the next question must concern the therapeutic utility of such novel agents. The term entactogen was chosen after a consideration of the potential therapeutic applications of the drug class it described. The name is meant to apply to agents with MDMA-like pharmacology, but would generally apply to any substance that can produce (gen) an inner (en) "touching" (tact).

Just as the word tact, with the same Latin root tactus, is meant to imply both skill and considerations in dealing with others and the ability to do or say the appropriate thing, entactogens should ideally produce an inner state where the patient does not feel threatened or defensive. Yet, the memory cannot be dulled, as it is with benzodiazepines. Indeed, memory retrieval should be facilitated, so that the ability to recall emotionally painful, repressed memories is not impaired. (pages 125-126)

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