Recreational 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) or 'ecstasy' and self-focused compassion: Preliminary steps in the development of a therapeutic psychopharmacology of contemplative practices

Sunjeev K Kamboj, Emma J Kilford, Stephanie Minchin, Abigail Moss, Will Lawn, Ravi K Das, Caroline J Falconer, Paul Gilbert, H Valerie Curran, Tom P Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) produces diverse pro-social effects. Cognitive training methods rooted in Eastern contemplative practices also produce these effects through the development of a compassionate mindset. Given this similarity, we propose that one potential mechanism of action of MDMA in psychotherapy is through enhancing effects on intrapersonal attitudes (i.e. pro-social attitudes towards the self). We provide a preliminary test of this idea. Recreational MDMA (ecstasy) users were tested on two occasions, having consumed or not consumed ecstasy. Self-critical and self-compassionate responses to self-threatening scenarios were assessed before (T1) and after (T2) ecstasy use (or non-use), and then after compassionate imagery (T3). Moderating roles of dispositional self-criticism and avoidant attachment were examined. Separately, compassionate imagery and ecstasy produced similar sociotropic effects, as well as increases in self-compassion and reductions in self-criticism. Higher attachment-related avoidance was associated with additive effects of compassionate imagery and ecstasy on self-compassion. Findings were in line with MDMA's neuropharmacological profile, its phenomenological effects and its proposed adjunctive use in psychotherapy. However, although conditions were balanced, the experiment was non-blind and MDMA dose/purity was not determined. Controlled studies with pharmaceutically pure MDMA are still needed to test these effects rigorously.

LanguageEnglish
Pages961-970
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Volume29
Issue number9
Early online date18 May 2015
DOIs
StatusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

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Psychopharmacology
Methamphetamine
Imagery (Psychotherapy)
Psychotherapy
Therapeutics
N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
Action Potentials

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Affect/drug effects
  • Empathy/drug effects
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens/pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine/pharmacology
  • Psychopharmacology/methods
  • Psychotherapy/methods

Cite this

Recreational 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) or 'ecstasy' and self-focused compassion : Preliminary steps in the development of a therapeutic psychopharmacology of contemplative practices. / Kamboj, Sunjeev K; Kilford, Emma J; Minchin, Stephanie; Moss, Abigail; Lawn, Will; Das, Ravi K; Falconer, Caroline J; Gilbert, Paul; Curran, H Valerie; Freeman, Tom P.

In: Journal of Psychopharmacology , Vol. 29, No. 9, 01.09.2015, p. 961-970.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kamboj, Sunjeev K ; Kilford, Emma J ; Minchin, Stephanie ; Moss, Abigail ; Lawn, Will ; Das, Ravi K ; Falconer, Caroline J ; Gilbert, Paul ; Curran, H Valerie ; Freeman, Tom P. / Recreational 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) or 'ecstasy' and self-focused compassion : Preliminary steps in the development of a therapeutic psychopharmacology of contemplative practices. In: Journal of Psychopharmacology . 2015 ; Vol. 29, No. 9. pp. 961-970.
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AU - Minchin, Stephanie

AU - Moss, Abigail

AU - Lawn, Will

AU - Das, Ravi K

AU - Falconer, Caroline J

AU - Gilbert, Paul

AU - Curran, H Valerie

AU - Freeman, Tom P

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