MDMA in a Severely Disturbed Man with Psychosis, Administered by his Brother
It has been eighteen years since the governing powers made MDMA a Schedule 1 substance, and rendered it unavailable to the millions of people who could benefit from its use. In 1984 I wrote a paper detailing what this letter will again describe.
My brother had a history of acute alcoholism and drug use. Our family had sent him down to Sarasota from Indianapolis to my wife and I, in frustration, hoping we could help him out. We tried, but after several months of getting nowhere, having him living with us, we asked him to seek his own means. I had not seen him for six months or so.
One afternoon after work I sat down in my easy chair, ready to watch the news and relax, when I had a sudden urge to go see if this pod of dolphins I was trying to establish a relationship with was around. I had the funny feeling they would be near the bridge on Siesta Drive. The urge became so strong, I bolted out of the chair and drove swiftly to the bridge.
I don't know if it was angels, Divine intervention, dolphins, some extra-sensory phenomenon or what. Whatever it was, it was miraculous. For just as I approached the bridge, I saw my brother. He was walking at a fast pace, head down, shoulders slumped. I pulled over, got out of the car, and spoke to him. He seemed confused. He did not recognize me at first. I was able to get him into the car, which was no easy task. He was frightened, paranoid, and seemed to be hallucinating. As I crossed the bridge to get to where I could turn around, the pod of dolphins I thought would be there passed under the bridge and swam off into the sunset. Had they called me in time to save my brother's life? You see, as we drove back to my house, he was able to explain he had injected some very bad bathtub meth, had been awake for about a week, and was going to jump off the bridge.
When I got him home, it became clear he was not only depressed, but having fits of rage. He came in and out. He would forget what he was saying, who he was, who I was. He was very paranoid, and tried to escape. My brother, unlike myself, is a very big guy. He frightened me. My wife came home with our little baby, and my concern grew. I called our mother and she said "Commit him." I took him to the exclusive Palms Hospital, a rehab hospital just blocks from our home. I had a friend in rehab there, a famous musician, and figured he could help my brother.
After two weeks there and at an expense to our mother of nearly twenty thousand dollars, we had to make other arrangements. He was doing no better. There was a hearing, and we committed him to the state facility. Shortly thereafter, Rick Doblin told me about the work he was doing with MDMA, which was prior to its scheduling. He asked if I would be interested in trying it and writing a paper about my experience. I agreed. My first night of MDMA was one of the most profound of my life. It unlocked feelings of love I had never known, and I was able to view several incidences of my life, especially my childhood, with renewed compassion and understanding, forgiveness and release.
My brother had been in the state hospital for five weeks when I called his doctors to see how his progress was coming along.
"To be honest, he's no better," one of his doctors explained. "He is still hallucinating, definitely suicidal and most likely homicidal. He can't hold a conversation. He doesn't even know his own name most of the time."
I asked the doctor if he had ever heard of MDMA. He responded, "Yes, I'm very familiar with it. We all are here."
"What do you think it could do for my brother?" I asked him.
"At this point," and this is verbatim as I still remember this conversation well, "it couldn't hurt him. But we can't administer it to him here."
I asked him if he had heard of Rick and his work, and he said yes. I asked how he felt about it. He told me he supported Rick, and MDMA. He said all the doctors out there wished they could give it to their patients, that they all felt it would help many of them. I asked what he would think of Rick and I giving it to my brother. He said he could sign him out for the weekend if I had him back by Monday, warning me to be very careful and not to let him leave my sight. With that, I drove the hour and a half to retrieve my poor spaced out brother.
I strapped him into the car and said, "I'm taking you home to get you high, but you have to be good." He didn't say three words the entire trip home. I explained MDMA to him, and he seemed ready to try it.
I did everything according to the methods suggested by Rick and other therapists. My brother was given about 130 mg., after not eating for four hours. In forty minutes, the MDMA kicked in, and he got up and went out on the lawn. By the way, I did not take it. I told my wife that if he left the yard she was to call the police. He didn't leave, though. He sat down and put his head on his knees for a while, then I saw him lift his head and he was in meditation. I joined him, and we began to talk. He was back!
We talked for nearly four hours. I gave him another half dose, as suggested for therapy. We looked at our childhood years, we talked about many things. He went to sleep clear and at peace.
The next morning I drove him back to the hospital, and he was like his old self again. On Monday morning, his doctor called me and said, "You can come get him Wednesday. He doesn't need to be here."
What more can one say? Who knows what his fate would have been had it not been for MDMA. How long would he have suffered? Would he ever have made it back? He has never injected drugs since, however, he has had a very bad time with alcohol. Would he if he could have had ongoing therapy with MDMA under controlled environments with qualified therapists?
MDMA is a healing instrument beyond any other we know of in psychotherapy. I'm not a therapist, but my wife is. She is not pro use of drugs except in severe cases, but because of the ban on MDMA, she has had no exposure to it, so she has no opinion currently. That's a shame. My friend Rick Doblin does. He has been dedicated to this cause for over twenty years. I am amazed at his commitment and I am equally amazed at the stupidity of the ruling institutions who have kept this drug from those who could benefit.
I'll never forget the peace it brought to our dying friend, John Major, before cancer took him.
My wife is the director of grief support services for a hospice. I wish we could give it to so many of the dying clients and their tormented families. To the children who have watched parents die, murdered, or who have suffered abuse. So many people in pain in this world. MDMA can help them in so many ways. My opinion? It's lobbying from the big drug companies who want their drugs like Prozac to stay on the market. If you can heal a patient with $5 worth of MDMA every month, who needs Prozac? There go mllions of dollars of profit. So, what do you think is going to happen?
Thank you Rick, and thank God, for MDMA in 1984. It saved my brother's life. And mine too!
David A. Goodman