Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Little Counseling Before Dying

The Guardian's David Adam has more information on the MDMA trials to help terminally ill patients here.

The ecstasy is not a chemical fix for the patients' anxiety, instead it is intended to help them to open up and get the most from conventional counselling. Halpern says the drug allows people to talk about topics they would otherwise avoid.

"It's really tough doing psychotherapy with people who have anxiety disorders because when you get to the heart of the matter it causes a panic attack. For somebody who has a particularly gruesome time trying to talk about important end-of-life issues it bubbles into anxiety and nothing gets achieved," Halpern says.

"MDMA may be potentially useful in that it doesn't induce that reaction. We want to see if that can translate into decreased anxiety and meaningful increases in the quality of life for these people."

The alternative, he says, is heavy doses of sedatives such as Valium. "At the moment these people have a choice of being over-sedated and not having anxiety or being alert and suffering panic attacks." |Link|

People are such bundles of contradictory emotions, it seems obvious to me that empathogens (or drugs that affect emotions) could be wildly beneficial to humanity.

Note: This is posted as a comment on my blog over at the Bellman.

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