Electronic dance music (EDM) events may function as a ritual space for psycho-spiritual exploration and personal development, often linked to the occurrence of non-ordinary states of consciousness in participants. This paper reviews the literature addressing the spiritual, religious, and transpersonal facets of participants’ experiences at EDM events, with an emphasis on the subsequent integration of these experiences into daily life. Several empirical studies conducted in the past two decades, of which the most recent was conducted by the first author of the present paper (Redfield, 2017, this issue), provides grounds to argue that EDM events can be vectors for enhancing personal and psychosocial wellbeing for their participants—a discussion that was omitted in previous studies that strictly emphasized either the dangers or the purely hedonistic nature of EDM participation. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research into the specific ways in which EDM events may benefit individual participants.
Why MDMA therapy for alcohol use disorder? And why now?
Alcohol use disorder represents a serious clinical, social and personal burden on its sufferers and a significant financial strain on society. Current treatments, both psychological and pharmacological are poor, with high rates of relapse after medical detoxification and dedicated treatment programs. The earliest historical roots of psychedelic drug-assisted psychotherapy in the 1950s were associated with Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy to treat what was then called, alcoholism. But results were varied and psychedelic therapy with LSD and other ‘classical’ psychedelics fell out of favour in the wake of socio-political pressures and cultural changes. A current revisiting of psychedelic clinical research is now targeting substance use disorders – and particularly alcohol use disorder – again. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy has never been formally explored as a treatment for any form of substance use disorder. But in recent years MDMA has risen in prominence as an agent to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With its unique receptor profile and a relatively well-tolerated subjective experience of drug effects when used clinically, MDMA Therapy is ideally suited to allow a patient to explore and address painful memories without being overwhelmed by negative affect. Given that alcohol use disorder is so often associated with early traumatic experiences, the author is proposing in a current on-going UK-based study that patients with alcohol use disorder who have undergone a medical detoxification from alcohol might benefit from a course of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘Psychedelics: New Doors, Altered Perceptions’.
The New Psychotherapy: MDMA and the Shadow
Some thoughts by world-famous psychotherapist Ann Shulgin on the use of MDMA (ecstasy) in psychotherapy for encountering what she calls the “Shadow”.
Women and Psychedelics Forum – Part 1 – Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines
This unique forum aims to challenge the effects of the under-representation of women in psychedelic science and community. Among the fifteen women presenting are some of our most esteemed elders; the forum features prominent voices from both the psychedelic underground and academic researchers.
The first part of the Women and Psychedelics Forum with an introduction from the Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute of Psychedelic Plant Medicines and organizer of the WPF, Bia Labate, followed by the launch of the Ayahuasca Community Guidelines for the Awareness and Prevention of Sexual Abuse (Emily Sinclair), a Statement from MAPS Public Benefit Corporation relating to the issue of sexual abuse in psychedelic therapy (Sarah Scheld), and the Keynote address from the WPF by Kathleen Harrison covering a history of Feminism and the Feminine in the psychedelic movement.
Ecstasy: The New Drug Underground
This article addresses the questions that are raised by the conflict of governmental banning of drugs that are of potential value in psychotherapy and the therapist’s determination to continue exploring their use, despite this.
Rave and religion? A contemporary youth phenomenon as seen through the lens of religious studies
This article examines the contemporary phenomenon of raves. Although explicit religious references abound in rave culture and also in scholarly interpretations of raves, these references are generally analogous and avoid direct mention of “religion” proper. In this article, we apply the theory of displacement of religious experience and the sacred to draw out the structural and phenomenological religious homology of raves and set the study of this youth phenomenon and the subculture which surrounds it firmly within the field of religious studies. We also propose avenues for further investigation. The article begins with a brief history and definition of “rave.” Then it turns to the symbolic and religious references found in raves as well as the meanings both participants and commentators attribute to this phenomenon. Third, it presents and discusses the ritual structure of rave, using the theory of the mechanism and dynamics of the transgression-fuelled festal ritual (la fête), as defined by Georges Bataille. Its purpose is to contribute to an understanding of how contemporary religious economy develops, particularly a religious economy that concerns a now largely secularized youth.
Solidarity and Drug Use in The Electronic Dance Music Scene
Current research and theory on rave culture has articulated a link between solidarity and drug use, although the precise nature of this relationship remains unclear. Work conducted in the field of cultural studies contends that while rave participants engage in drug use, it is by no means the exclusive source of solidarity. However, work in the fields of public health and medical science portrays rave culture as a site of extensive drug consumption and personal risk, where solidarity is dismissed or dubiously acknowledged as chemically induced. Prior research has not sought to reconcile this tension, or to consider how the relationship between drug use and solidarity may have changed over time. Using data from a multimethod ethnography of the rave scene in Philadelphia, we found the drug use–solidarity relationship substantially more complicated than prior scholarship has articulated. Our discoveries, consequently, provide clarification of this relationship as well as advance the literatures on solidarity, collective identity, youth culture, and music scenes.
Why MDMA Should Not Have Been Made Illegal
Hundreds of therapists and psychiatrists use MDMA-assisted psychotherapy with thousands of patients suffering from terminal illness, trauma, marital difficulties, drug addiction, phobias, and other disorders. With many anecdotal claims of benefits, users showed little evidence of problematic physiological or psychological reactions or addiction. Scheduling and the attendant media attention on the controversial public hearings created an expanded market. But the scheduling process was fraught with problems, with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s emergency scheduling itself declared illegal by the courts and its scheduling criteria overturned. Ultimately, criminalization had little deterrent effect on the recreational user population while substantially reducing its therapeutic uses. Perhaps the most profound effect of MDMA’s illegality has been the curtailment of scientific research and experimentation with a drug that held therapeutic potential.
The 12 Most Important Drugs Shulgin Designed, Synthesised and Took
A homage to the Godfather of Ecstasy.
From Shock to Awe
From Shock to Awe asks, ‘how do we heal our deepest wounds?’ An intimate and raw look at the transformational journey of two combat veterans suffering from severe trauma as they abandon pharmaceuticals to seek relief through the mind-expanding world of psychedelics. Recent scientific research coupled with a psychedelic renaissance reveals that these substances can be used to heal PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) for individuals and their families. Beyond the personal stories, From Shock to Awe also raises fundamental questions about war, the pharmaceutical industry, and the US legal system.