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Synopsis

Ecstasy… empathy…openness…compassion…peace…acceptance… being…forgiveness…healing…re-birth…unity…emotional bonding… caring…celebration…these are some of the terms people use to describe their experiences with a class of substances, of which MDMA 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as Adam, ecstasy, Molly, or XTC) has become the best known. Although related in a general way to the psychedelic (“mind-manifesting”) substances such as LSD, psilocybin and mescaline, these substances are different in that they do not usually produce visions, hallucinations, or altered perceptions of reality. Even more importantly, these substances seem to consistently induce positive affect and reduce or attenuate anxiety in significant contrast to the classical psychedelics which can amplify and elaborate both positive and negative affects. Because of the high percentage of major positive insight experiences reported with these substances, and the relatively low incidence of undesirable side-effects, these drugs have attracted favorable attention from a number of psychotherapists who regard them as facilitators of therapeutic insight and change. They have also been used by some teachers and practitioners of meditation who see them as important amplifiers of emotional and sensory awareness and as aids to spiritual practice. The present book is a collection of personal accounts of these kinds of states of heightened awareness, particularly awareness of one’s own emotions. They are remarkable both for the uniformity with which people affirm their positive value, and for the diversity and range of individual differences. The experiences reported here all occurred within a context of either psychotherapy, serious self-exploration, relationship communication, or spiritual practice. Some are accounts of individuals with psychological disturbances, including two rape victims who took the substance as part of their psychotherapy. Most of the individuals whose experiences are related here took the substances with guidance from someone experienced in their use in order to further their personal and spiritual growth. Ralph Metzner, PhD

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