After reading some of the cases of psychological healing on your website I thought I might add another in hopes that it might be of some benefit.
My husband committed suicide many years ago. He died of a gunshot wound to the head. My 13-year son found his body. He was very close to his father. This event shattered his life.
He manifested symptoms of the trauma that persisted for years. He could not fall asleep at night. When he could sleep it would be for 16 hours. His attendance at public school was so disrupted I had to place him in a private school that would allow for several days of absences a week. He was unable to focus or concentrate on his studies.
He was emotionally numb except for outbursts of anger. He was severely depressed and for many years I worried he might take his own life.
He began self-medicating with marijuana. In my family drug and alcohol dependency is rampant and I was very worried my son would become an addict for life.
I was a psychotherapist at that time and was familiar with the symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder. Over a period of 3 years my son was treated by several excellent psychiatrists and therapists for severe reactive depression.
The treatment was unsuccessful. After five years he was marginally functioning. All of the symptoms continued unabated. His social life consisted of smoking cigarettes and marijuana with a few friends. There were no interests, no sports and no other normal social activities. He was just struggling to get through each day. There was no future to plan for or look forward to.
He never spoke of his father or looked at photos of him and would leave the room if I ever mentioned his father or the past.
He was completely emotionally estranged from me. In one therapy session he screamed at me that he would never be close to anyone ever again and I should just give up trying to help him. And for five years he was true to his word.
During this period I consulted a good friend, a now deceased but prominent psychologist in California, because I was so distressed at the ongoing damaging effects of this trauma on my sonŐs life. He informed me that while it was legal he had conducted many therapy sessions with MDMA and he knew that it would be beneficial.
I could not imagine I would ever consider such a proposition. I was extremely concerned about my sonŐs use of illegal drugs as it was.
I was not a drug user. In college in the late sixties I had taken drugs on a few occasions and found it frightening. As an adult I did not drink alcohol because I had witnessed the devastating effects of addiction in my own family. I had a strong anti-drug position in general including illegal abuse and prescription overuse.
But finally, in desperation to alleviate my sonŐs suffering and fear for his future I flew to California and met with my friend. After hearing many case histories of successful work with his patients I decide to take the drug myself. He agreed to this after my insistence. I had to be certain MDMA would not harm my son.
What I experienced was a mild but positive opening of my own emotions and I had a very beneficial "conversation" for 4 hours with the Dr. B.
Although he was willing to give this to me because I was a friend and he cared about me, he was not willing to actually conduct a session with my underage son.
I returned home having in my possession a few doses of what was not a street drug but something made by a chemist he knew personally.
I asked my stepson if he would take the drug with his brother at his home and begin a conversation about the suicide. My son was so angry with me and emotionally estranged from me that I thought this would be the best approach. I told them of my experience with the psychologist in California and of his experiences with his patients. I explained that I did not condone the use of illegal drugs but that I thought this extreme circumstance warranted drastic measures.
They had heard of ecstasy but never taken it or known anyone who had. They were receptive to this plan. On the appointed evening I gave them the doses and got them to agree to some guidelines, (no drinking alcohol but plenty of water, no driving, no leaving the premises) I told them I would be home by the phone and to call me at anytime and that I would call them every hour or so to see how it was progressing and check in.
They agreed. Within the hour they called and asked me to come over. What resulted was an evening of a level of sharing, self-disclosure and emotional healing that I never imagined possible. Many tears of sorrow and remembering and forgiveness were shed amongst the three of us. The experience of such pain was never more poignant and blessed.
They spoke openly of the exact details of finding the body, what they felt at that moment and how they had suppressed the pain by trying not to remember it or the life they had that had included him. They realized they had thrown the baby out with the bathwater and cut off most feelings altogether by employing that strategy. I mostly listened and sat astonished at the unstoppable outpouring of profound thoughts, insights, realizations, and emotions.
The ice was broken permanently. Sometime after that night my son did something that he had been unable to do for five years. He went to the cemetery where his father was buried. He reported that he fell on his knees and wept and spoke to his father for a long time. He took five roses for each year that he had not gone in remembrance of him and asked his forgiveness for pushing him out of his thoughts.
After that catharsis with MDMA and the follow up to the gravesite everything radically changed for my son. Photos of his father came out. He wanted to see the entire library of family movies during which he laughed and cried as his past life and scenes of the love was restored to his memory; the depression lifted and he became interested in life again.
Within the year he bought a boat and became an avid saltwater fisherman, was in a relationship and had enrolled in community college. He and his girlfriend insisted on joining me for a lengthy trip to Asia. We had a wonderful time together exploring, hiking and island hopping.
My emotional connection to my son was restored after that one session and our relationship has continued to deepen and be a source of delight to me.
Marijuana lost its centrality in his life. He is not a drug addict or an alcoholic. He is no longer running from the pain of his loss. He was able to experience his grief and move forward in life.
He is a very thoughtful and soulful person who has survived a great tragedy and navigated through some very rough waters.
I will be eternally grateful to my friend for sharing his knowledge of the practical and profound good effects of MDMA. His love and courage enabled him to give me something illegal because he knew it would help (save my son).
Because he shared his conviction of the beneficial possibilities of MDMA I was able to overcome my great fear of going outside the boundaries of the law to take a risk that proved so life changing for my son.
I hope that this type of scenario will be played out in a legal way in the offices of courageous and loving therapists and professionals in the years to come.
I cannot help but wonder how many years of suffering my son might have avoided if MDMA had been an available treatment option in a clinical setting.
Good luck on the research and thank you all for fighting for this.