OPEN Foundation

J. Morgan

Effects of ecstasy on cooperative behaviour and perception of trustworthiness: A naturalistic study

Abstract

Background: Acute recreational use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; ‘ecstasy’) can promote pro-social effects which may alter interpersonal perceptions.

Aims: To explore such effects, this study investigated whether acute recreational use of ecstasy was associated with changes in individual perception of trustworthiness of people’s faces and co-operative behaviours.

Method: An independent group, repeated measures design was used in which 17 ecstasy users were tested on the night of drug use (day 0) and again three days later (day 3); 22 controls were tested on parallel days. On each day, participants rated the trustworthiness of 66 faces, carried out three co-operative behaviour tasks (public good; dictator; ultimatum game) and completed mood self-ratings.

Results: Acute ecstasy use was associated with increased face trustworthiness ratings and increased cooperative behaviour on the dictator and ultimatum games; on day 3 there were no group differences on any task. Self-ratings showed the standard acute ecstasy effects (euphoria, energy, jaw clenching) with negative effects (less empathy, compassion, more distrust, hostility) emerging on day 3.

Conclusions: Our findings of increased perceived trustworthiness and co-operative behaviours following use of ecstasy suggest that a single dose of the drug enhances aspects of empathy. This may in turn contribute to its popularity as a recreational drug and potentially to its enhancement of the therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy.

Stewart, L. H., Ferguson, B., Morgan, C. J. A., Swaboda, N., Jones, L., Fenton, R., … & Curran, H. V. (2014). Effects of ecstasy on cooperative behaviour and perception of trustworthiness: A naturalistic study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(11), 1001-1008. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881114544775

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Efficacy of Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment of Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Abstract

Importance  Few pharmacotherapies have demonstrated sufficient efficacy in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a chronic and disabling condition.

Objective  To test the efficacy and safety of a single intravenous subanesthetic dose of ketamine for the treatment of PTSD and associated depressive symptoms in patients with chronic PTSD.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Proof-of-concept, randomized, double-blind, crossover trial comparing ketamine with an active placebo control, midazolam, conducted at a single site (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York). Forty-one patients with chronic PTSD related to a range of trauma exposures were recruited via advertisements.

Interventions  Intravenous infusion of ketamine hydrochloride (0.5 mg/kg) and midazolam (0.045 mg/kg).

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome measure was change in PTSD symptom severity, measured using the Impact of Event Scale–Revised. Secondary outcome measures included the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, the Clinical Global Impression–Severity and –Improvement scales, and adverse effect measures, including the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, and the Young Mania Rating Scale.

Results  Ketamine infusion was associated with significant and rapid reduction in PTSD symptom severity, compared with midazolam, when assessed 24 hours after infusion (mean difference in Impact of Event Scale–Revised score, 12.7 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][95% CI, 2.5-22.8]; P = .02). Greater reduction of PTSD symptoms following treatment with ketamine was evident in both crossover and first-period analyses, and remained significant after adjusting for baseline and 24-hour depressive symptom severity. Ketamine was also associated with reduction in comorbid depressive symptoms and with improvement in overall clinical presentation. Ketamine was generally well tolerated without clinically significant persistent dissociative symptoms.

Conclusions and Relevance  This study provides the first evidence for rapid reduction in symptom severity following ketamine infusion in patients with chronic PTSD. If replicated, these findings may lead to novel approaches to the pharmacologic treatment of patients with this disabling condition.

Feder, A., Parides, M. K., Murrough, J. W., Perez, A. M., Morgan, J. E., Saxena, S., … & Charney, D. S. (2014). Efficacy of intravenous ketamine for treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA psychiatry, 71(6), 681-688. https://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.62
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27 March - Analytic Idealism & Live Q&A with Bernardo Kastrup

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