MDMA Research Update: May 2007

Dr. Michael and Annie Mithoefer, the co-therapists for MAPS’ landmark US MDMA/PTSD study, were in Norway recently attending a workshop by Dr. Edna Foa, an internationally-recognized expert in the treatment of PTSD. The workshop was organized by Pal-Orjan Johansen, a Ph.D. candidate at the Trondheim Psychotherapy Research Program, Department of Psychology, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Teri Krebs, B.S., Program in Neuroscience, Boston University.

While in Norway, Dr. Michael and Annie Mithoefer were also able to work with Pal and Teri, who are conducting a MAPS-sponsored study reviewing audio and video recordings and transcripts of subjects in the Mithoefer’s MDMA/PTSD research, in order to code and compare the psychological defense mechanisms used in both non-drug therapy sessions and in the experimental MDMA-assisted therapy sessions. This study is designed to identify process variables that may help explain how MDMA can be a useful adjunct to psychotherapy.

Dr. Michael and Annie Mithoefer were also able to discuss with Pal and Teri their MAPS-sponsored project using the internet to search for reports of people with Asperger’s (a form of high-functioning autism) who have found MDMA to be helpful in their learning to cope more effectively in social situations. If we do find at least a handful of such reports, this could become another area of research, if funding becomes available.

Drs. Mithoefer, Peter Oehen and Franz Vollenweider, will be presenting their MDMA/PTSD work at the European Conference on Traumatic Stress in Croatia next month.