MDMA – Confessions of an Underground MDMA Therapist

Psychedelic Therapy with MDMA

“Can I use my mind as a tool to help me open a closed heart?”


We talked to a 79-year-old underground MDMA psychotherapist. Remaining anonymous, due to the illegality of this work, he shares some of his greatest insights from his many years of experience helping people with psychedelic therapy. Succeeding a twenty-year hiatus from MDMA therapy, he continues to provide this healing psychedelic work to individuals today. 

The following is an excerpt from our interview. Check out the full audio interview here.

Edited by: Alyssa Gursky


MDMA – Confessions of an Underground Therapist

Psychedelics Today: How did you get exposed to the literature and science around psychedelics in those early days?

Anonymous: It wasn’t the literature. In 1958, when I was 20 years old, someone got a hold of some acid. I was living in Boston and a friend of mine said,

“Would you like to try this new drug?”

I was naïve and I didn’t know. The only drug I’d ever consumed was alcohol. I said, “It is habit-forming?” They said, “No.” I said, “Alright. I’ll try it.”

I told my friend I was going to try it that day. The next day, when I met him on the street, he asks, “How was it?” I said, “Considerably more interesting than the sum total of my life up until this point.”

Psychedelics Today: What has surprised you the most about working with people at MDMA? Do you see rapid transformations? Is it kind of a catalyst for a longer set of transformations or transformational process? How do you think about it?

Anonymous: In order to answer that, I have to emphasize that people are in different stages of understanding and growth in their own level of self-knowledge. Also, people have set a lot of defenses against change in the conscious and unconscious mind.

I especially like looking at relationships; relationship to one’s self, relationship to nature and something beyond one’s self and relationship to one’s friends, to one’s lover, or one’s past lovers, and to the people that push your buttons. Looking at the difference between the way that the relationship feels normally and the way you feel towards the person when your heart is more open because of the medicine is the greatest benefit, in my eyes. Looking at those relationships, people sometimes get glimpses of what it could feel like if their hearts were open instead of closed. Sometimes, they even realize that they do not have any good reason to keep it closed.

Psychedelics Today: It’s like one of its better effects is just kind of a reorientation towards daily life. No need to be closed off, no need to be fearful.

Anonymous:  Of course. That doesn’t mean they don’t go back to being have been closed off and fearful, but when you go back to the old place because you’ve tasted the new place, the old place is never quite the same.

Psychedelics Today: I am am curious if you could share any stories of people’s healing, anonymized, of course.

Anonymous: One comes to mind, a man who was brought up in a minority community out West and was molested by a man who was not part of the community. The man told him at the end, “You better not tell anyone about this or else … ” and he threatened him with something pretty terrible. This young boy did tell. He told his people in his community. They found the man and beat him until he was at the ends of his life. My client told me that he felt really guilty for what had happened, even though it’s not rational to feel guilty. He felt really guilty and the guilt spilled over until many areas of his life and was the sort of central pillar of his psychology, this feeling of being bad, unworthy of love as a result of that.

When he took the medicine, he told me about his situation. I just asked him, “Pretend that it is your son who gets molested and is told that he mustn’t tell and then, he told anyway; how would you feel towards him?” He had a moment’s pause and said, “I will just love him.” Then, he made the connection himself and there was a visible, immediate change that came over his facial expression and looked like a different person. He dropped the majority of his guilt. It stayed with him because I saw him the next day and he still looked much more relaxed, whole, and happy. He said that there was a fundamental shift in him as a result that couldn’t just end when the effects of the medicine wore off.

Relating to my own growth, I found that emotional maturity and self exploration are key portions of my journey. I found that every single relational difficulty that I found in myself, if I looked at it it deep enough, brought me to the same lesson- that I wasn’t being kind to myself. When I’m feeling good about myself, I just don’t have relational difficulties. Of course, most of us have a ways to go before we can feel good about ourselves. Another thing, I realized, is the hurt doesn’t come from rejection, it comes from my taking offense at rejection. If I learn not to take offense, I’ll get hurt a lot less. That would just be an example of a much bigger principle.

Psychedelics Today:  I really appreciate your focus on the relationship aspect of healing work. My teacher and I were discussing  psychedelic use in traditional cultures. To the Native Americans, Peyote usage is all about relationship; a relationship to the medicine, a relationship to the universe. It doesn’t seem like that’s always the case.

When we were asking another teacher about like, “How would you pitch breathwork to somebody that’s interested?” His first response was, “Are you curious? Are you curious about your relationship to the world?” I think that’s kind of like the cornerstone of self-discovery. It’s about learning about your relationship to yourself, learning about your relationship to others, learning about your relationship  to the universe and how you interact with it.

Anonymous: One more side on the matter is that I look at the spiritual literature of the world. I noticed that there’s very little believable and useful literature about intimate partnerships between two equal people in the spiritual literature. Most spiritual literature just says, “Be loving. Be kind. Be forgiving.” That’s very nice, but they don’t talk about how do you do that when your heart is closed?

I think the deepest question when one is in relationship is, am I safe? Is it safe for me to love? Do I need to close my heart in order to stay safe? I believe the answer to that question is always no, but we often think it’s yes.

The MDMA affected my work by the nature of the changes it brought about in me. We saw things about opening… I really saw that the central issue for most people is very simply put, the need to open the closed heart. I look at everything in the world that I found distasteful; war and violence, starvation and hunger, economic inequality, environmental disaster, the stuff that goes on in the homes, and every single thing seemed like it wouldn’t take place if they were loved.

It seemed like the same factor that caused disharmony in the home is what caused war among nations, you know, like “as above, so below.” It felt like there’s this one change needed in the human consciousness which could be summarized by the opening of the closed heart, and that became my biggest interest. Can I use my mind as a tool to help me open the closed heart?

Psychedelics Today:  Looking back at all these years of doing your own self-exploration and providing a space for people to do their own exploration and healing, is there a piece of advice that you have gathered and would like to pass on? You must have seen a lot and been through a lot. To us, you are this elder passing some serious wisdom on. I’m curious if you have any deep insights.

Anonymous: Boy! From what I’ve experienced, I can say that most of the time, people start from an assumption that the world is unsafe. In order to make it safe, they attempt to control people, events, and circumstances. If you start with “I’m not safe,” then the only thing I’ll ever arrive at is, “I’m still not safe.” We’re all looking for a feeling of deep, deep safety. I think safety is like love. The only safety worth anything  is unconditional safety. A safety that doesn’t depend on circumstances is the most valuable because circumstances are out of our control. I think that the piece of advice would be — consider the possibility that the world is safe. Start with that and see where that takes you.

Psychedelics Today:  Thank you for that. That’s a really, really great piece of insight.


If you enjoyed this excerpt of the interview, be sure to check out the full podcast: Confessions of an Underground MDMA Therapist


Become a Patron!


MDMA is hugely beneficial for some (most?) people, and it makes sense to optimize for the best outcome. People can now try this on their own. It is easier and safer than ever. With all of the new research being published, this is happening with increasing frequency. Interested in learning about integration and self-care? Be sure to check out our “Psychedelic Integration & Self-Care” course! Free course preview in the sign up link below. Learn about MDMA and many other drugs in the course we created for you and your friends.

Kevin Franciotti – Psychedelic Therapy, Iboga and Journalism

Iboga researcher and advocate - Kevin Franciotti


Download
Kevin is a science writer, graduate student researcher and aspiring clinician, harm reduction educator and substance use recovery advocate. Kyle and Joe talk to him about loads of topics including early Iboga therapies, an early Boston Ibogaine Conference, his approach to journalism and his future aspirations to do future clinical work and research.

Kevin’s website

Kevin’s writing

Staff Writer (Fall 2012–Spring 2013) – NuScience Magazine, Northeastern University


Links

Autism
20-25 mg Psilocybin
200 mcg – LSD

A Conversation Between Gary Fisher and Myron Stolaroff (2004) – Psychedelic Salon

2009 Ibogaine Conference Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.

Alicia Danforth Ph.D -Dissertation

National Geographic – Breakthrough season 2


About Kevin:

Kevin graduated from Northeastern University in 2013 with a degree in neuroscience. As an undergraduate he completed an internship as a research assistant at Harvard Medical School working on the Phase 2 dose-response study investigating the therapeutic potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of cancer related anxiety. Kevin was also one of the founders of the Northeastern chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and in 2009 the group hosted and co-sponsored the Boston Ibogaine Forum. He now lives in New York City where he is enrolled in a clinical psychology graduate program at The New School for Social Research and is pursuing a doctoral degree. Kevin has worked part-time for the Drug Policy Alliance, and also works as a writer covering topics related to psychedelic therapy, addiction, and mental health advocacy. His recent contributions include: New Scientist, Reason.com, Reset.me, Reality Sandwich, and VICE.com.

Psychedelia – Joe and Kyle interviewed by Paul Austin

Description from Psychedelia

SUMMARY OF PODCAST

This week we talk to Joe and Kyle from Psychedelics Today, a regular podcast that explores important events in the field of psychedelics. We hear about how Joe and Kyle met, and about their unique personal experiences with psychedelics. We end up pretty much covering it all – life, death, rebirth and (of course), holotropic breathwork.

Joe and Kyle met through a shared interest in holotropic breathwork – a technique for transpersonal development created by LSD-psychotherapist Stanislav Grof. Joe describes holotropic breathwork as a method of intense, focussed breathing, in a group setting, aided by loud, evocative music. It can often produce a psychedelic state that is used for healing or personal development – and many describe it as being similar to psychedelic therapy.

Now experienced holotropic practitioners, Joe and Kyle also run the Psychedelics Today podcast in an effort to provide a resource for anyone interested in any aspect of the psychedelic world – including holotropic breathwork.

Read the rest here.

Paul Austin – Host and Founder of Third Wave