When MAPS' first PTSD study in the USA was published in 2011, the results were eye-opening. After two psychotherapy sessions with MDMA, 10 out of 12 participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD. The benefits were still apparent when the patients were followed up three to four years after the therapy.
Ben Sessa, a psychiatrist working around Bristol in the UK, is preparing to carry out a study at Cardiff University testing whether people with PTSD respond to MDMA in the same way. He believes that early negative experiences lie at the root not just of PTSD but of many other psychiatric disorders, too, and that psychedelics give patients the ability to reprocess those memories.
He believes psychiatry would look very different today if research with psychedelics had proceeded unencumbered since the 1950s. Psychiatrists have since turned to antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. These drugs, he says, help to manage a patient's condition, but aren't curative, and also carry dangerous side-effects.