Sunday, December 19, 2010

Drug ‘Ecstasy’ May Help Individuals with Schizophrenia, Autism

Some scientists believe that the drug MDMA (ecstasy), which is known to increase feelings of social connection and empathy, may have psychotherapeutic benefits for those with disorders often associated with a lack of feeling connected to others, such as in schizophrenia, autism, or antisocial personality disorder.

Up until now, scientists have had a hard time objectively measuring the effects of this drug, and there has been very little research in humans. Researchers from the University of Chicago, who conducted research on healthy volunteers, have reported their new findings in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.

“We found that MDMA produced friendliness, playfulness, and loving feelings, even when it was administered to people in a laboratory with little social contact. We also found that MDMA reduced volunteers’ capacity to recognize facial expressions of fear in other people, an effect that may be involved in the increased sociability said to be produced by MDMA,” said author Dr. Gillinder Bedi.

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