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J Psychopharmacol. 2017 Aug;31(8):967-974. doi: 10.1177/0269881117711712. Epub 2017 Jun 21.

Therapeutic effect of increased openness: Investigating mechanism of action in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

Author information

1
1 Department of Neurology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA.
2
2 Private Practice, Mount Pleasant, USA.
3
3 Department of Psychology, University of Maine, Orono, USA.
4
4 MAPS Public Benefit Corp (MPBC), Santa Cruz, USA.
5
5 Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Santa Cruz, USA.

Abstract

A growing body of research suggests that traumatic events lead to persisting personality change characterized by increased neuroticism. Relevantly, enduring improvements in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms have been found in response to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy. There is evidence that lasting changes in the personality feature of "openness" occur in response to hallucinogens, and that this may potentially act as a therapeutic mechanism of change. The present study investigated whether heightened Openness and decreased Neuroticism served as a mechanism of change within a randomized trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) Global Scores and NEO PI-R Personality Inventory (NEO) Openness and Neuroticism Scales served as outcome measures. Results indicated that changes in Openness but not Neuroticism played a moderating role in the relationship between reduced PTSD symptoms and MDMA treatment. Following MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, increased Openness and decreased Neuroticism when comparing baseline personality traits with long-term follow-up traits also were found. These preliminary findings suggest that the effect of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy extends beyond specific PTSD symptomatology and fundamentally alters personality structure, resulting in long-term persisting personality change. Results are discussed in terms of possible mechanisms of psychotherapeutic change.

KEYWORDS:

MDMA; NEO personality; openness; pharmacotherapy; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); psychotherapy; treatment outcome

PMID:
28635375
PMCID:
PMC5544120
DOI:
10.1177/0269881117711712
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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