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Effects of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine on Patient Utterances in a Psychotherapeutic Setting

Corey, Vicka Rael PhD; Pisano, Vincent D. BS; Halpern, John H. MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: July 2016 - Volume 204 - Issue 7 - p 519–523
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000499
Original Articles

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) administered as an adjunct to talk therapy influences patient speech content and increases improvement in treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Data came from the recordings of Mithoefer et al. (2011). In the third therapeutic session studied, patients were assigned, double blind, to an MDMA or a placebo group. Condition-blind scorers listened to therapy recordings and scored utterances where patients initiated topics that were empathic (regarding others' emotions), entactic (requesting or appreciating physical touch), or ensuic (describing a change in their sense of themselves). Patients who received MDMA produced high levels of ensuic, empathic, and entactic utterances compared with those who received the placebo. Interrater discourse scoring was reliable. The relationship between the number of scored utterances and the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale scores measuring PTSD severity after the treatment was significant, and reanalysis grouped bimodally into “many” or “few” such utterances remained significant. MDMA assisted these patients in having meaningful and disorder-resolving thoughts and discourse in talk therapy.

*Harvard Medical School, Boston; †The Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, McLean Hospital, Belmont; and ‡Clinical Trials Network Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Vincent D. Pisano, BS, was with McLean Hospital at the time of research but has transitioned to the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Send reprint requests to Vicka Rael Corey, PhD, 35 Kidder Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144. E-mail:

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