How a dose of MDMA transformed a white supremacist
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of BBC News
Posted: July 3rd, 2023
Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural science at the University of Chicago, was running an experiment on whether the drug MDMA increased the pleasantness of social touch in healthy volunteers. Mike Bremmer, de Wit's research assistant, appeared at her office door with a concerned look on his face. A man named Brendan had filled out a standard questionnaire at the end. Strangely, at the very bottom of the form, Brendan had written in bold letters: "This experience has helped me sort out a debilitating personal issue. Google my name. I now know what I need to do." Brendan had been the leader of ... a notorious white nationalist group. "Go ask him what he means by 'I now know what I need to do,'" [de Wit] instructed Bremmer. As he clarified to Bremmer, love is what he had just realised he had to do. "Love is the most important thing," he told the baffled research assistant. "I conceived of my relationships with other people not as distinct boundaries with distinct entities, but more as we-are-all-one. I realised I'd been fixated on stuff that doesn't really matter. There are moments when I have racist or antisemitic thoughts ... But now I can recognise that those kinds of thought patterns are harming me more than anyone else." While MDMA cannot fix societal-level drivers of prejudice and disconnection, on an individual basis it can make a difference. In certain cases, the drug may even be able to help people see through the fog of discrimination and fear that divides so many of us.
Note: A case study about Brendan was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. Read more on the healing potentials of psychedelic medicine, including science journalist Rachel Nuwer's new book, I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.