The Empathy and the Ecstasy 

  The Empathy and the Ecstasy 

Posted by FoM on August 09, 2000 at 18:44:22 PT
By Rob Morse, Examiner Columnist 
Source: San Francisco Examiner  

You have to wonder if a drug called Empathy could be the toast of young people, a Raver Madness segment on "60 Minutes" and a scourge to be fought by politicians and law enforcement. A capsule of Empathy sounds like something Bill Clinton would take to feel others' pain, but that's the name almost given to Ecstasy. 
"Have you heard the story about how it got its name?" said Marsha Rosenbaum, the sociologist who first studied Ecstasy in the late 1980s. She published a book called "The Pursuit of Ecstasy: The MDMA Experience." MDMA, the official nickname for Ecstasy, is clumsy and the chemical name it stands for is beyond pronunciation: 3,4-methylenedioxy methamphetamine. "The drug was first used in the late '70s primarily by therapists because it enables people to talk to each other without defenses and without fear," said Rosenbaum. "People reported they felt more empathetic." Rosenbaum said therapists called the drug, which was then legal, "The Medicine," or sometimes "Adam" in honor of the therapist most known for using it. The drug needed a better name. "The way the story goes," said Rosenbaum, one of the drug's distributors said, "Well, you know, Empathy would be the proper name, but let's call it Ecstasy. It'll sell better." It's illegal now, but it's selling better than ever. It sure does create empathy, as well as increased libido. It's understandable that young people trying to overcome their defenses are attracted to the stuff. This is how hard Ecstasy hits the empathy buttons. A lesbian acquaintance was undergoing marriage counseling with the husband she had left for a woman, when their therapist gave them Ecstasy during a session. So much empathy was created between them that they got back together, and it took weeks before my acquaintance remembered she was really a lesbian. I took the stuff, way back during its first wave of popularity during the early Reagan administration. Look, I lived in Florida, and it was "Miami Vice" time, and Ecstasy was the least of the vices available. That sunny Sunday afternoon, my wife and I really, really got along, but then we made the mistake of turning on the television. Every show was terrific. I vowed to write a column about how great TV had become. The next Sunday I watched the shows with a clear head and they all stunk. Ecstasy is not a good drug for a professional cynic. Funny how this "St. Joseph's Baby Acid," as professional cynic P.J. O'Rourke once called it, was so popular in the Reagan era and once again in the smiley-face Clinton-Gore-Bush era. If Ecstasy had been the rage in 1968, kids might have made love, but instead of fighting the war they would have deeply felt for Lyndon Johnson. It's easy to make light of one's youthful (well, 35-ish in the case of Ecstasy) drug experimentation, but Ecstasy is potentially harmful to some kids, particularly if they drink booze with it, get dehydrated from dancing, or get some more dangerous powder passed off as Ecstasy. Rosenbaum is head of the San Francisco Office of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, funded by drug legalization activist George Soros. By the way, just as Ecstasy got a new name, she would like to have a punchier name for her foundation. She thinks Drug sounds about right for the largest drug policy reform foundation in the land. She'd like to see some changes in the ways we approach kids and drugs, and strictly for the safety of the kids. This is a temperate woman, someone whose first studies were funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Ecstasy can definitely be abused, and not just by kids taking too much of it, but by politicians making too much of it. There's a federal Club Drug Initiative and wars on "club drugs" like Ecstasy being launched by federal and local authorities all over the nation. "My concern is that they're taking a shred of research information and just running with it," said Rosenbaum. "More people than ever are going to be doing time, and it won't reduce the use of the drug," she said. "When kids read about it, they say, "Wow, this sounds good.' " Despite all the warm and fuzzy feelings created by Ecstasy, kids don't get so carried away that they don't want to know more about it. "I don't think kids are out to do themselves in," said Rosenbaum. "When they open up, if they think you know something about Ecstasy, they pick your brain. They want to know more." Here's one interesting fact. The more you take Ecstasy, the less it makes you feel ecstatic or empathetic. It's sort of a self-limiting drug. In January, Rosenbaum held a two-hour forum on Ecstasy at the San Francisco Medical Society, and 200 people showed up, many of them young people. Rosenbaum was so astounded at the turnout that on Feb. 2, 2001, she's sponsoring a longer conference called "Ecstasy, Science and Culture" to bring scientists together with ravers. She's also speaking on Ecstasy and the failing drug wars at the Shadow Convention in Los Angeles. You want to convince kids not to take Ecstasy? Don't get drug czar Barry McCaffrey on the case. Just tell the kids that it'll make them like "Matlock."Contact: letters Forum: August 9, 2000 ©2000 San Francisco Examiner Related Articles & Web Sites:TLC - DPF Shadow Conventions Convention 2000 News Board Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Search - Ecstasy:

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Comment #9 posted by toker on October 19, 2002 at 11:39:27 PT:

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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 10, 2000 at 11:57:28 PT

Thank You Kanabys

Thanks Kanabys! I'm glad you love C News. I hope we all are learning. I know I am learning more each day. It doesn't matter how old or young you are as long as you keep an open mind and listen and learn is my philosophy. These times they are a changin'Peace, FoM!
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Comment #7 posted by Kanabys on August 10, 2000 at 09:12:21 PT

Keep on keeping on

I'm glad I was able to straighten that out. I'm for total freedom. After all, isn't that what our people have fought for since this nation was started? I believe we need to be much more compassionate toward kids who may 'screw-up' from time to time; God know I did! FoM, keep up the good work. I LOVE this site and I hope that it will always be here. It's like a breath of fresh air, and it's so easy to use and understand. [ is sort of confusing to me.] Keep up the GREAT work!! I'll always support you. I know I've said this before, but I believe all of need a little 'pep rally' from time to time.Peace to all
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on August 10, 2000 at 08:55:27 PT

Good Points!

Exactly Kanabys! You said it the way I believe too. When there is no victim how can there be a crime? I also understand what you mean about the Ecstasy hype.Thanks FoM!
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Comment #5 posted by Kanabys on August 10, 2000 at 08:35:49 PT

I do see your point

Oh, don't get me wrong from the previous post. I would love to see people be able to ingest *anything* they desire. As long as it doesn't intrude on anyone elses turf, I'm all for it. All I was saying was that I believe that cannabis is the most popular entheogen there is and I believe it always will be, so I was just saying that being realistic, the feds must fight something. That's the amerikan way, WAR. I just kind of think that the most popular shouldn't be criminalized. That would reduce the WAR casualties. Although, with as much hoopla as 'E' has been getting lately, I would be surprised if it won't become the most popular. Personally, I think that none of these substances should be criminalized. If a person does something bad against others, under the influence or not, they should be punished. I think that's common sense. But if someone is just toking a spliff or dropping cid or whatever in their home, harming no one, why bother them??? Does that clarify my position?Peace
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on August 10, 2000 at 08:15:42 PT

My thoughts

Hi Kanabys,I understand what you are saying. I want more then anything to see marijuana decriminalized. That is where my heart is. I would much rather not bother with other drugs but this is why I do care. When I was young I tried a few "hard drugs" and if I had gotten arrested what would have happened to me and my life as I know it today? I guess I wonder if lives are being ruined by youthful indiscretions. I saw a cop show on tv where they did a sting in the police dept. on a meth lab. I didn't feel any sympathy for this person. I have limits to what I believe is right and what should be punishable. Meth is a bad drug because it is too darn good or at least it was many years ago. I hope this helps.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #3 posted by Kanabys on August 10, 2000 at 07:48:18 PT

That's what Ive been wondering.....

Are the drug warriors looking for a new 'scourge' like E to take the place of weed? Because for us pot lovers, the war IS turning our way. I know this might sound bad, but I really don't care about 'E' that much; my drug of choice is WEED, so if they started picking on 'E' and left weed alone, I would be overflowing with JOY!!! Come on, let's be real, they feds must have something to pick on. So, if they are forced to leave weed alone, they must have something to take its place. That something may be 'E'. If anyone disagrees with me, please speak up. I'm openminded about criticism. 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 10, 2000 at 07:34:49 PT

Right dddd

Hi dddd,I only heard the words ecstasy as far as a drug goes a few times until all this. If I were younger because of all the negative press I've learned a little more about ecstasy and probably would try it if I was young and healthy. You are so right.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on August 09, 2000 at 23:57:22 PT

Absurd Frenzy

 This article makes several excellent points."My concern is that they're taking a shred of research information and just running with it," said Rosenbaum. It's true.I am not sure of the exact figures of death attributed to exstasy,but I do believe it is infinitesmal.(even if there were statistic from the anti drug realm,they could not be trusted)...This has been typically blown way out of proportion,perhaps in an attempt to keep the vacant prison cells occupied,after they lose the war on marijuana. My second point,which relates to the first,is that there are many kids out there,(adults too),that would have never even heard of ecstasy,were it not for the sensationalistic news coverage of a few incidents.If you have a new drug,that you want to make popular,then just find or make up a story about a dead kid,who might have taken it,and presto,the new drug becomes sought after as the heavy daring thing to do amongst old and young youths. It's similar to the gun/children thing,that was sensationalized by several tragic events,that were slathered with news coverage,and transmutated into some sort of national problem,(purposly,I believe),yet in reality,there has been no significant escalation in these crazed kids and adults freaking out with guns,but the media is being used as a tool to further the questionable agendas of a certain few.............dddd 
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