‘It’s a whole fresh, clean slate of communication’: Exploring the MDMA experiences of couples using a pluralistic, qualitive approach
Background information: MDMA (‘ecstasy’) is well-known for its pro-social effects including heightened empathy and openness. These effects seem to facilitate closeness yet there has been limited research looking at MDMA’s impact on romantic relationships. Research question: How do shared MDMA experiences influence a romantic relationship? Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 couples using a pluralistic approach. Results: Couples’ emotional environments were transformed: communication changed from knowing something on a rational, cognitive level to a deep, felt understanding; a protective bubble was formed around the couple: free from existing fears/judgments and an emotional sense of self was brought to the fore. Conclusion: The study opens up new understandings of the role of MDMA in romantic relationships through an appreciation of how emotional experience can be transformed by MDMA. It also points to a reconsideration of the therapeutic use of MDMA for couples.
Katie Anderson is a PhD student researching couples who take MDMA together and how they feel these ecstasy experiences have influenced their relationship. The research is qualitative and supervised by Professor Paula Reavey and Dr Zoë Boden. She completed her MSc Psychology at the University of East London in 2013, where her dissertation explored the meaning of MDMA experiences to users, and has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge.