Unsuccessful MAPS Attempts at Collaborative Research

MAPS Bulletin Autumn 1990 Vol. 1, No. 3

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Due to the opportunity Swiss psychiatrists had to actually administer MDMA, MAPS attempted to initiate collabomtive research on MDMA neurotoxicity between Swiss psychiatrists and Dr. George Ricaurte. Dr. Ricaurte visited the Swiss psychiatrists and prepared a protocol which called for spinal fluid to be taken from patients before and after exposure to MDMA, then placed in liquid nitrogen for shipment to Johns Hopkins for analysis.

Unfortunately, the Swiss psychiatrists decided that MDMA ncurotoxicity was not an important concern of theirs. They were also less than enthusiastic about conducting research into the therapeutic use of MDMA and LSD, despite the offer of psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School to collaborate on experimental design.

The Swiss psychiatrists are psychotherapists and not researchers, who realize that research protocols often inhibit the process of psychotherapy. Protocols preferred by the FDA are double-blind placebo studies. Because of the placebo, half of the therapeutic sessions, often conducted with patients who seriously need treatment, are seen by the psychiatrists as being less effective therapeutically than the patients deserve. In addition, the studies fail to remain double blind since experienced therapists and patients can determine the content of the pill by the presence or absence of the dramatic effects which psychedelics catalyze. Since the Swiss Health Authorities did not explicitly require formal research, scientific studies were never begun in Switzerland.