A former Marine says he feels “cured” of his PTSD after three MDMA therapy sessions, and has turned to art to stay relaxed.
via The Verge:
It’s not clear how MDMA may help patients recover from PTSD. Imaging studies of PTSD have shown increased activity in the amygdala, the fear center of the brain, and decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex and in the hippocampus. Essentially, three parts of the brain are operating irregularly, which prevents people with PTSD from processing everyday experiences normally. However, once people take MDMA, there’s increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, and decreased activity in the amygdala — it basically evens out the scale so proper therapy can be done, Mithoefer says.
PTSD patients are often “too aroused or mostly numb” during therapy without MDMA; the drug helps therapy happen for them “meaningfully, without being overwhelmed by the fear,” Mithoefer says.
Whatever the explanation, the results in small trials look promising. A previous study found 10 of 12 patients no longer registered PTSD on their CAPS scores after receiving MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Mithoefer says his group hasn’t fully analyzed the results for the study Blackston participated in. He says the outcomes look similar to the first study so far; analysis will be released in May.
As for Blackston, he says MDMA and therapy cured him. He did three 75mg sessions and three full dose sessions, finishing in 2012 — and no longer registers on the PTSD scale. He views the trial positively. “I had a profound moment, I guess it felt like a bird’s-eye view of how everything went down [in Iraq] and why it happened,” he says. “I was a machine gunner. I was supposed to take anyone out before they take us out, and getting hit was my responsibility, and my driver dying weighed a lot on me. I had that guilt for the longest time,” he says. In therapy, he had a moment where he finally saw the big picture. “I saw my whole past completely differently,” he says. “It no longer became something that was haunting me.”
Blackston says he still has normal anxieties, but he turns to making art to stay relaxed. “I was so young to have life and death in my hands,” he says. When he was still suffering from PTSD, he says he feared his own right hand, because that was his shooting hand. Now, he says he uses it to paint.