The Mother Who Gave Her Terminally Ill Daughter Ecstasy to Ease Her Suffering

Originally appearing at A mother has told how she gave her dying daughter the illegal drug Ecstasy in order to ease her suffering during the final stages of cancer. Biologist Marilyn Howell claims giving her 32-year-old daughter Mara the drug ‘took away the pain’ and was ‘the best thing that happened’ at the end of her life.’ She described Mara as being adventurous, joyful and full of life before she was tragically struck down with colon cancer. For the last three months of Mara’s life Marilyn, who qualified as a biologist before moving into teaching, gave her daughter MDMA – the active ingredient of the drug ecstasy on several occasions. She claims the sessions, which combined taking the drug with psychotherapy, were immensely beneficial, enabling her daughter, who had never taken drugs before, to come to terms with her mortality without suffering. Marilyn, from Boston, has now published a book about the experience of caring for Mara entitled ‘Honor Thy Daughter’ in which she argues more research is needed into the safety and effectiveness of MDMA and other psychedelics. She writes: ‘MDMA therapy was the only thing that had given her a joyful and painless experience and the only thing that seemed to hold any hope for healing. ‘Psychedelic therapy let Mara see herself as much more than a bedridden cancer patient. ‘She remembered who she was. Still, she hoped for an even deeper experience, perhaps a window into her deepest vulnerabilities, and a shift that could heal her.’ In the final stages of her life Mara became increasingly bedridden finding it hard to get out and about. Marilyn says MDMA, which gives clubbers the energy to dance all night long, gave her daughter the strength to walk in the park and the confidence to talk about her condition freely. Describing one of the MDMA sessions she writes: ‘The setting was the same as the first time, with Mara on the inflatable bed ‘At 10:45 AM, she took 130 mg of MDMA. ‘At first she only wanted to close her eyes and rest, but within an hour she was more alert, with less pain, and ready to engage. ‘Once again, the therapy consisted of gentle music and conversation.’ Mara died in 2006 and Marilyn claims she had a ‘good death’ due in no small part to the MDMA sessions. Ecstasy works by flooding the brain with the naturally-occurring chemical serotonin giving users a feeling of warmth, closeness and compatibility, while increasing energy levels. It raises body temperature and causes the heart to beat faster. There have been over 200 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK since 1996, many as a result of organ failure caused by overheating or dehydration. But some academics believe it could be an effective medicine for people with terminal illnesses. Marilyn’s book ‘Honor Thy Daughter’ was published in April 2011by MAPS. It is available to buy through the website and at priced at $16.95. UK newspaper The Daily Mail announces the release of Honor Thy Daughter, Marilyn Howell’s new memoir about how psychedelic therapy helped her daughter cope with the pain and anxiety of terminal colon cancer. (Note that the title of the article is technically incorrect: Howell’s daughter received pure MDMA, not Ecstasy. Ecstasy is a recreational drug that may or may not contain MDMA. All of MAPS’ clinical studies use MDMA, not Ecstasy.)