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Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014 Mar;29(2):109-19. doi: 10.1002/hup.2390.

MDMA is certainly damaging after 25 years of empirical research: a reply and refutation of Doblin et al. (2014).

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Department of Psychology, Swansea University, Swansea, South Wales, UK.


Human Psychopharmacology recently published my review into the increase in empirical knowledge about the human psychobiology of MDMA over the past 25 years (Parrott, 2013a). Deficits have been demonstrated in retrospective memory, prospective memory, higher cognition, complex visual processing, sleep architecture, sleep apnoea, pain, neurohormonal activity, and psychiatric status. Neuroimaging studies have shown serotonergic deficits, which are associated with lifetime Ecstasy/MDMA usage, and degree of neurocognitive impairment. Basic psychological skills remain intact. Ecstasy/MDMA use by pregnant mothers leads to psychomotor impairments in the children. Hence, the damaging effects of Ecstasy/MDMA were far more widespread than was realized a few years ago. In their critique of my review, Doblin et al. (2014) argued that my review contained misstatements, omitted contrary findings, and recited dated misconceptions. In this reply, I have answered all the points they raised. I have been able to refute each of their criticisms by citing the relevant empirical data, since many of their points were based on inaccurate summaries of the actual research findings. Doblin and colleagues are proponents of the use of MDMA for drug-assisted psychotherapy, and their strongest criticisms were focused on my concerns about this proposal. However, again all the issues I raised were based on sound empirical evidence or theoretical understanding. Indeed I would recommend potentially far safer co-drugs such as D-cycloserine or oxytocin. In summary, MDMA can induce a wide range of neuropsychobiological changes, many of which are damaging to humans.


Ecstasy; MDMA; PTSD; neurotoxicity; serotonin; therapy

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