Notes on Shulgin's Work with MDMA

Image: Ann & Sasha Shulgin by Alex Grey, retrieved from Terra Igcognito.

" "The time will come when we'll seperate all our senses and capabilities- the visual from the auditory, the tacticle from the sense of smell, as well as wit, intellectual capability, creativity- and [be able] to enhance them with drugs." - Alexander Shulgin

- from "Future Drugs", Omni Magazine

The controversy and promise of MDMA is part of a larger issue facing our society- the possibility of accessing new states of mind through the intellegent use of drugs and potential non-drug methods, as well as our freedom to do so. The development of tailor-made drugs with more specific effects will continue, as the above quote from Shulgin suggests. Our understanding of the brain, both of its chemistry and structure and its relationship to thought and feeling, will expand as we enter the 21st century."

- p. 126, Ecstasy: The MDMA Story by Bruce Eisner (1989)


"If the counterculture according an equivalent to the Nobel prize, Shulgin would be a shoe-in for the honor. He pulled MDMA, ecstasy, out of the dustbin of ignored old chemicals- it was originally made by a German compan in the 1920s, then forgotten. Shulgin resynthesized MDMA in the late 1960s, noted its fizzy empathetic properties- "It was not a psychedelic in the visual or interpretive sense, but the lightness and warmth of the psychedelic was present and quite remarkable... I developed a great respect and admiration for the material"- and launched it on the thirty-year trajectory that would lead to the smiley-faced rave culture we known today, as well as an effective, often obscured tradition of psychotherapeutic use." (206)

-p. 206, Breaking Open The Head by Daniel Pinchbeck (2002)


"Well known phenethylamines include mescaline, MDMA and MDA- the simple molecule, phenethylamine itself, is a major constituent of chocolate." (207)

- p. 207, Breaking Open The Head by Daniel Pinchbeck (2002)


"When Alexander Shulgin performed his 1976 research on the effects of MDMA on humans, Claudio Naranjo was the research psychologist on Shulgin's research team. This was described in New York magazine:

"The effect (of MDMA) was much different from MDA." recalls Dr. Claudio Naranjo, who worked closely with Shulgin. "MDMA was not hallucinogenic. It seemed, too, less toxic than MDA. When administered in small doses, there were few, if any, side effects a slight tightening of the jaw, some nausea, and those would pass in the first half-hour. And the psychological effect- it was completely different from any other drug. It was like a brief, fleeting moment of sanity."

- from Ecstasy: The MDMA Story by Bruce Eisner (1989)

Watch: Alexander Shulgin on MDMA.

Alex Grey, visionary art, Ann Shulgin, Alexander Shulgin, Sasha Shulgin
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